Formerly - A look at the ups and downs of life with a double pushchair!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Beachball fun!

As it's -2 degrees back home we thought we would head down to the beach for some fun today. Baby A and E have never experienced sand before.  Not making the same mistake as last week in the snow we didn't try and take the stroller onto the sand so dear husband and I each carried a baby to the shore.

Tentatively Baby A put her feet down on the sand and climbed back to the safety of Grandma's knee. Daredevil Baby E climbed off my knee and crawled along the sand as if she had done it many times before. Not only did she crawl at a rapid speed towards the huge expanse of sea but she tried to eat the stones, rubbed the sand in her hair and I just managed to grab her before she put a dirty cigarette butt into her mouth. Looking on and realising how fun this was Baby A finally climbed down off Grandma's knee and crawled at the same speed in entirely the other direction.

Whilst I was busy concentrating on the babies I was unaware of the drama unravelling behind me. Boy in the middle had brought a giant inflatable football on holiday with him specifically to bring to the beach. Dear husband took the ball and kicked it towards boy in the middle only the wind blew it towards the sea. The ball landed on the sea and gradually floated away from boy in the middle. Dear husband waded into the sea to try and get the ball, only the further in he went the faster the ball floated out to sea. Tears started to trickle down boy in the middle's face and so dear husband promised to retrieve the ball. The sea was rather cold, he had no swimwear on and a wallet in his pocket.

The ball floated further and further away and Baby A and E were still trying out the beach delicacies. On the rocks a little way out in the sea we spotted a man with a canoe. Dear husband approached the man and explained the problem of the ball. By this time it was so far out to sea we could barely see it and boy in the middle was now making louder and louder sobs.

Then like a guardian angel, canoe hero jumped in his boat and canoed out to sea at an alarming speed. Whilst I was still trying to brush sand from 4 hands in order that Baby A and Baby E could have an edible snack, boy in the middle came charging back up the beach with a huge smile and his huge beachball. 

Who knew there could be so much drama from a simple outing to the beach!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Always take a bottle with you!

We travelled out of England to get away from the snow and to celebrate the babies first birthday with their family in Israel. There are many parts of my outward journey that I could have chosen to blog such as the nightmare in the airport where security insisted on us collapsing the double stroller to put it through the x-ray machine or how we passed the time at Luton with a 4 hour delay, but the highlight of my journey had to be worth blogging.

We lucked out on the plane and managed to get 5 seats between the 6 of us and we had only paid for 4. When we came to land boy in the middle sat by the window and Baby E and I sat in the middle next to him. Eldest daughter, dear husband and Baby A sat on the row in front.

With plenty of warning that we were going to land we put all the toys and dvd's away, got out a sweet to suck, strapped ourselves in and looked forward to landing. Then with 15 minutes until landing I heard the word every parent dreads hearing at a time like this "Mummy I am desperate for a wee". "Too bad" I reply, "You should have gone when I told you to". "But I'm desperate". Dear husband who was so happy to be on the row in front just having to deal with eldest daughters blocked ears advises distraction techniques.  I try all sorts of topics of conversation but my ears are hurting me by this time and baby E really wants to practice standing up.

Eventually when I realise the only alternative is going to be wetting himself I suddenly notice the small empty mineral water bottle in the seat pocket in front of me. Ok needs must. I explain to boy in the middle what is going to happen. He isn't sure. I explain there is no alternative and that no one need know what is happening.

He gets up, we remove the lid, he wees and he really was desperate. As I fear that the bottle may overflow, he stops and relief beams out from boy in the middle. He is no longer in agony and he is rather proud of his achievement. He sits back down, I breathe a sigh of relief as there was no accident and no-one noticed what was happening. About 5 minutes later the plane touches down and we are happy to have reached our destination. As the seatbelt sign switches off, boy in the middle is excited to take off his seatbelt. He grabs the bottle before I realise what he is doing, holds it high up in the air and proudly tells his daddy, his older sister and half the plane how great is was to wee in a bottle!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Wheels don't turn in the snow

I hadn't been out all weekend. At 12.30pm today I bundled eldest daughter and boy in the middle into Grandpa's car to go and see a couple of hours of seasonal pantomime and eat too many sweets typically allowed on an outing of this nature.

The snow had fallen very rapidly on Friday and Saturday but my dear husband and eldest two kids had been out yesterday and relayed that they had seen a number of strollers out and about. The sun was shining and baby A and baby E were screaming as they are cutting yet more teeth and so I wrapped them up in extra sweatshirts, snowsuits, blankets and a raincover to keep out the wind. In my mind I would assemble the stroller outside in the street and carry out each laughing happy baby in turn and strap them calmly into the stroller. In reality two screaming babies were headbutting the floor so I took baby E and popped in her pacifier. With one hand I opened the stroller in my hallway and I got baby E into her seat only needing to push her arching back down so I could strap her in. I then repeated this whole procedure with baby A.

I grabbed my baby bag, hat and coat and warmed up the leftover soup that was in the fridge which I could drink from the tupperware on my way. I then managed to get the stroller through the doorway into the snow. Cursing my husband for not having cleared the driveway I got the stroller down the two steps. I gave a push but there was no chance of it going forward through this much snow. I went round to the front and dragged the stroller out to where the road used to be and I tried to wedge the wheels between the tyre tracks.

I started off for the shops. The sun was still shining and the babies were still crying. The stroller couldn't go at its usual pace. I walked down the centre of the road with great difficulty. I stopped after a few minutes to have a slurp of the warm soup and considered turning back. This had to be my most ludicrous outing I have been on since the twins were born. However I am a very determined person and I still had to get two babies to sleep so I ploughed on. I reached the main road and found the snow on the pavements to be more compacted so the pushing was easier.

In years gone by I have loved watching the snow fall and heading out in my wellies to build a snowman with my kids. Never before have I really paid too much attention to the consistency of snow. Today however I veered towards the dark slushy unappealing stuff as the wheels turned through this with no problem. The white fluffy snow had to be avoided.

At times I found myself pushing the stroller through a snow consistency similar to sand. I would never dream of pushing a stroller along the beach so why on earth had I ventured out today? I did reach the shops and got my essential supplies of bread and baby wipes. I was amazed that the local shopping park was still full of snow and I couldn't get my stroller from the road up onto the pavement without the help of a kindly passer-by.

A normal trip to the shops and back can be done within an hour which gives me time to clear up the house while Baby A and Baby E sleep on in their stroller. Today it took me two hours and as we neared home they awoke and the crying began again.

As I am writing this I can see a few more flakes of snow falling. Clearly I won't be venturing out again for a while as my stroller obviously isn't designed for these conditions. On the plus side, Baby A and Baby E did have a great sleep in the fresh air and I had a great workout but I have just remembered that I must go and remove the plastic tupperware from the bottom of my baby bag and pour away the cold soup.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

How wide is a doorway?

Surely this has to be an easy everyday task. It was freezing cold yesterday but I had two crying babies who desperately needed a sleep and we had run out of bread. I figured I would wrap the girls up with snowsuits, blankets, mittens and the rain cover and take them on a short walk down the road to the local bakery.

We made it out of the house into temperatures of -1 degrees. Baby A insisted on pulling off her mittens in between sobbing. Every few metres I stopped to put the mittens back on or cover her with the blanket. For some reason she was rather determined to have her hands exposed to the elements and they became colder and colder. Baby E was altogether better behaved and kept her mittens on under her blanket.

I battled against the cold and reached the steamed up windows of the bakery. I pushed open the door and took in the fabulous smell of freshly baked bread. With both girls still awake and Baby A still screaming I tried to push the stroller through the doorway. All those inside, quietly sipping a mid morning coffee, turned to see who was disturbing their cappucino.

I got the stroller half way through the doorway but no further. For some reason I couldn't get the back wheels in and it seemed to be too stressful to continue so I reversed. Not wanting to leave the girls outside on their own I asked the owner to put 2 loaves of bread in a bag for me. I pulled out a £5 note and put my arm through the doorway to give it to him. Meanwhile I held open the door for a lady to pass through with a single stroller. She entered in a far more refined manner than I had attempted.

I waited in the cold and out came the owner with my bread and change. As I was fumbling to put my change away the door opened once more and I held it open for the lady with the single stroller to exit.  She didn't even thank me. I however am forever profusely grateful for anyone who holds open a door for me and my girls even if we don't always make it all the way through.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Let's stick with the stroller - car seats seem too complicated

As every parent with more than one child knows there comes a time when it is necessary to convert a car seat from it being used by a toddler with the car seat belt over it back to its original state with 5 point harness intact. My Britax car seat has been sitting in the corner of my hallway for the past couple of weeks and I have been trying to ignore its presence. I dread the exasperation and sweat and arguments that are going to come with re-converting this back so one of our baby girls can use it.

At the start of this week baby A and baby E were happily playing and so I rooted around in the utility room to find the straps, instructions and dvd to equip me in my quest. Being a mummy of 4 and having a basic understanding of car seats and baby equipment I thought I would have a go without looking at the instructions. That was abandoned after a couple of minutes. Not being able to find any instructions in English I popped the dvd into my machine. Now I remembered why I was dreading this task. The only instructions available on the dvd are how to convert it from the baby 9kg set up to 18kg and from 18kg to 36kg. What the manufacturer hasn't factored into these instructions is when you need to convert it back from usage by your 5 year old to your 1 year old again.

The only option I can imagine is to watch the first lot of instructions on rewind pausing to reconstruct the strap system.

My car seat is currently sitting in the corner of the kitchen now with one strap half connected. The dvd has been removed from the machine and replaced with Mary Poppins. I have also realised that it needs a thorough clean with a packet of baby wipes in order to remove the ingrained breadsticks and fruit winders from the shoulder straps and buckles. This job is going to take longer than I imagined.

Since I have twins and require 2 car seats I have decided that I may just order a second identical seat which will come with all the straps fitted to the correct requirements and then I can put them next to each other in the kitchen, arm myself with the Polish instructions and dvd and I am sure my original car seat will be back together in a matter of minutes!

Monday, 13 December 2010

First day out in London on public transport!

Following our successful acting debut in October our agent called and said that there was an audition for an SMA advert that she would like the babies to go to. I was told it was in Leicester Square so my first thought was no way. How would I get all 3 of us to Leicester Square? More details were sent through and swayed by the fact that if they got picked they could earn a seriously large amount of money I looked into how I would get them there.

The audition was on a Thursday and hesitant as I was to miss my great weekly twins club I decided that actually a day out in London could be fun. The audition was at 11am so I could get the tube after 9.30am and be back in time for the school run.

I packed my giant baby bag with jars of breakfast cereal, nappies, wipes, bibs, spoons, snacks, more wipes, spare clothes, more wipes and had everything ready by the front door the night before. In the morning the arrangement was that all 6 of us would leave home together at 8am and drop off oldest daughter and boy in the middle at school on the way and then we would carry on to my husbands office and Oakwood tube station.

The morning mayhem was nothing unusual on this particular morning and having fed the babies milk but no breakfast we were all strapped into the car by 8.10am.  The day continued as usual with some fighting in the back row of the car, followed by us arriving late to school and signing the late book. At least the babies could stay in the car with dear husband whilst I rushed the other two into school.

With the babies asleep we continued our journey to Oakwood and parked the car outside my hubands office. I then took out the double stroller, loaded in the two sleeping girls, arranged my bag on the back and headed off to buy my post 9.30am travelcard.  It's amazing how exciting it becomes to pick up a free copy of the Metro which I haven't read for several years, having not travelled on the tube for ages.

The main reason I opted to take the Piccadilly line from Oakwood to Covent Garden was because there are elevators at both stations. What a brilliant idea. So waving goodbye to my dear husband with promises that he will meet up with me in town for lunch before his meeting in the city I head off to get the lift to the platform. It worked, down we went, in pulled the train, on we got - no worries at all. The babies now wide awake had their breakfast and remained happily fascinated by their surroundings. They sat like little dolls all the way. As is usual we got chatting to a man who had 14 year old triplets one of whom was with him. On nearing Covent Garden he offered to help me out of the station but I mentioned the elevator and that I should be fine. We got off the train and headed for the exit. As we rounded the corner we were faced with a steep flight of stairs up to the elevator. Brilliant. Luckily father of triplets was just ahead of me and kindly assisted me up the steps. Then we were out in Covent Garden. It was only 10.15am and I felt rather chuffed with myself. How hard could this day be?

We pottered about the shops for a while. Baby A had a little moan and got out of the stroller to gaze in wonder at this lovely fairy shop that we found. I resisted the temptation to buy lots of presents for my oldest daughter and we continued on to Leicester Square. I figured I would be early for the audition so I carried on and found the building in Leicester Place. I reversed my stroller up the two steps to the main entrance and pushed the buzzer. The door opened and I took the stroller inside. In the foyer which was just large enough for my double stroller there was a glass door with a sign on it saying that anyone with a stroller should take the elevator to the first floor. Through the glass door I could see a large flight of stairs ahead of me. Feeling like I was in some weird Alice in Wonderland realm I searched for another door to a lift. All I found was a broom cupboard.  Leaving the babies where they were I checked out the flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs there was the elevator - brilliant. By this time there were 3 other mums with single strollers all trying to maneouvre passed my giant double stroller in the foyer. Baby E by this point was screaming and inconsollable. Now I had to act fast. I removed my bag from the stroller and took it up the steps and left it outside the elevator. I decided I would take the girls out and then get the stroller up the stairs. Briefly forgetting that this was impossible I lifted baby A and baby E into my arms. The screaming from them stopped and then I wondered what to do with my stroller.

In walked a man to the building. "Do you work here?" I said. "No, I've come for an audition" he replied. "Well do you mind helping me? I need to get the stroller up to the lift". They say there are lots of guardian angels around. Here was mine. Not only did he lift the stroller up the flight of stairs, he put my bags back in it, called the elevator, pushed the stroller in, and accompanied me all the way to the first floor.  I left the stroller and headed to an empty seat in order to remove the hats, snowsuits and cardigans from the girls and my own coat, scarf, hat and gloves. I headed over to the reception desk with a baby under each arm. I was given a clipboard and 2 forms to fill out and I had to hold each baby so they could be photographed. I didn't even have time to remove all the snot and breakfast from their faces when they were photographed and I had all those wipes in my bag.  I headed back to sit down and put the girls down to crawl on the floor. I filled out their particulars and then scanned the room. There was only one other set of twins there and all the rest were single baby girls of various aged. What I found a little unfair was the adult child ratios of all the other people round the room. Most of the Mums had brought a proud grandma with to help as well!

There were quite a few babies in the room and I really didn't fancy hanging around for hours to be auditioned. The studio door opened and out came a girl with a clipboard who was clearly in charge as she took in a Mum, Grandma and baby combination. I kept my eye on the door as the next time she came out I said "Do you want some twins in now?" In we went, queue jumping the other 10 or so people already there. Having cleaned their noses I went in and introduced them. They had to sit on the floor and be cute. Having been strapped into their stroller all morning they were so relieved for freedom that they crawled all over the place, checked out the toys, climbed over each other and were extremely cute. I apologised to the director that they weren't wearing beautifully ironed dresses with bows in their hair like all the other babies sitting outside, but I did stress that I had come by myself with two babies.  They all seemed taken with the girls and they thanked me very much after watching them for 3 minutes and asking me various questions and that was it, we were done.  Now I had to exit the building.

A proud Grandma came to my assistance. Obviously she was a twin and had twin sons - I seem to attract twins now. She helped me get the girls back into their snowsuits and then the receptionist called on another member of staff to meet me at the bottom of the elevator so I could get the stroller back down the flight of stairs. I made it out onto the street, feeling ever so slightly exhausted and checked the time. 11.15am. Part of me wanted to call up my dear husband and just go home, but hey I was in central London with my girls and we decided to have fun.  We walked up to Regent Street. Baby A fell asleep and missed out on a fun filled hour in Hamleys. Baby E and I had a great time. We pulled all the pre school toys off the first and second shelves on the 2nd floor, we tipped out the build a bear clothes from the boxes on the 1st Floor and we played with the large soft animals on the ground floor.  Then it was my turn to shop with both girls back in the stroller and sleeping peacfully I managed to pick up a few items of clothes for myself before lunchtime. I met dear husband for a spot of lunch before he had to head off to the city so he escorted me to Piccadilly Circus to take the Piccadilly line back to Oakwood to the elevator that would take me back to street level.

The return journey wasn't as fun on the train. The girls both had their milk but took it in turns to get out of the stroller, sit with me, cry, be sick and complain. It was approaching 3pm by the time the train pulled into Oakwood so I was on time for the school pick up. I got off the train, headed for the elevator and then I saw the dreaded sign "Out of order"! There were 2 options. One was to sit down and cry, and the second was to head up the two giant flights of stairs with the stroller. There was a large crowd of people getting off the train so I headed for the stairs where a kind man offered to assist me up the stairs.

Now if you have ever had to carry a stroller up a flight of stairs you will know that the person at the back does all the hard work as you basically have to lift the stroller above your head so that it can stay level as you go up the stairs. I now had 3 bags of shopping plus my baby bag on the bag. 2 girls inside weighing 7.5 kilos each and the weight of the buggy. All I can say is thank goodness the girls were strapped in. They went up the stairs pretty much upside down. Thanking the kind stranger at the top of the stairs I felt relief to be almost at the car. I left the station but stopped abruptly as it was torrential rain by this time so I had to fumble around putting the raincover on.

Somehow we made it to school. I was late as usual and completely exhausted. I got home and collapsed. Had it been worth it? Well parts of the day were fun. The girls were so happy to be home they stayed up playing until 9pm that night. They hadn't really used up any energy that day.

As I write this blog I realise that today was the day that was set aside for filming the SMA advert at the London Aquarium.  After my major day out in London, and the girls performing so well in the audition, we never even got the part!

It's all in the act

I love my kids and never considered signing up my first two to do any modelling or child acting. However I was intrigued to come across a twin agency when the girls were small. It cost me nothing to sign them up so I did. I thought nothing of it until I was asked to send a recent photo of the girls in early October 2010.

As a result I spent 5 brilliant days in late October with Baby A and E who were picked to play the part of one 10 month old baby girl in a 5 part ITV drama. The filming was all local to my house and on day 4 I even got to play the part of a WPC who had to rescue the baby from the house.

On the final day of filming which was a Sunday we had to film at our local police station. All 6 of us arrived early and we had a great time educating the oldest 2 children on the film set. We were really interested and excited to see how everything is done and the kids were keen at first but then were even happier when we took them to the petrol station next door to purchase them each a packet of crisps.

The girls both took part in the filming. Baby A did days 1,3 and 5 and baby E did days 2 and 4 which turned out to be larger scenes each time so they both had an equal go at acting.  They had to be wheeled in a prisine single pram with brand new toys - not very authentic considering the baby was 10 months. There should have been some breadsticks and fruit bars squashed into the straps at the very least! Baby E had her nappy changed on a kitchen table and got to be held by me, the WPC who rescued her from her on screen mother who had just pushed her on screen father down the stairs and accidentally killed him.

It looks set to be a rather gripping violent drama series called Injustice and we look forward to seeing it on tv some time next year.