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

Monday, 26 December 2011

It's a lock down

I got the absolute best present from DH last week. Some may find it a little strange in my choice of gift but it has saved me hours of frustration and has saved me lots of money on wasted snacks. Still a little confused? I am now the proud owner of the "Boots MagLock" system.

I have spent the last few months complaining that A&E are constantly moving their highchairs, opening the larder cupboard, climbing up and smuggling chocolate/raisins/crackers/dry pasta/tea bags/potatoes - you name it they have opened/eaten/dropped them all.

The power of the word "NO" eventually did work on boy in the middle when he was a toddler but the power of 2 is a greater force.

At my wits end last week after clearing up powdered jelly and lentils DH went out and not only bought the most powerful magnetic cupboard lock he then proceeded to fit it as well.

A&E looked on and listened to the noise of the drill as I explained that Daddy was locking the cupboard. I felt a perverse sense of enjoyment and power against my fabulous but cheeky double act. There were a couple of tense moments when DH thought it wouldn't work and we all left the room to as give him some man space to work in. Once it was fitted I was rather worried about shutting the door and potentially locking away all our good food forever if it didnt re-open. Extremely helpful advice on the instructions reminded us not to leave the magnet inside the cupboard and then shut the door - then we really will be in trouble (I am sure that will happen at some point!).

Not only do I have power over the youngest two members of the family it is working wonders for all of us. We keep the magnet high up on the extractor hood and so now eldest daughter and boy in the middle cannot get into the biscuit tin without asking permission. It is also working wonders for my self control as sometimes I cannot be bothered to get the magnet to open the cupboard to delve into the chocolate raisins  - benefits all round.

A week on and the constant demand for crackers from A&E has completely stopped. Occasionally they go to the cupboard and say "Daddy lock" and then they walk away!

The best thing is there are 4 more magnets waiting to be fitted to whichever cupboard they aim for next. Now I need to stop them from turning on the taps!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Lots can happen in 30 minutes

It's tough finding the time to train for a half marathon with 4 young kids. Dh knows that the Sunday morning 8am slot is my time to run and train but other than that I have to fit training in around A&E's sleeping patterns, my babysitter, dh and the short winter days which don't allow a lot of time for running in the daylight on the streets. Driving to the gym and back takes up 20 precious minutes when I could be running so all in all my training isn't going so brilliantly.

And so it was the other day when I decided I would trial an early morning run from home. Eldest daughter had stayed overnight at a friends house and A&E were already up and drinking their milk and hitting dh on the head with their bottles. Dh wasn't thrilled about the idea as he claimed he wasn't awake but I had brought him his necessary morning cup of tea and so all he had to do was to get boy in the middle up and dressed and watch A&E.

As I opened the front door to the cold, damp, foggy winter morning, I caught a glimpse of A&E peering down the stairs waving at me. However, this was my time and I was determined to stretch well and run a couple of miles before coming home by which time I assumed breakfast would be in full swing.

I ran my 2 miles and it took about 25 minutes. As I opened the front door A&E came running out of the kitchen towards me. They are just beginning to speak so I asked them "Where's Daddy?" The answer that came back - "Bed bed bed". Assuming they were wrong and perhaps asking for bread I hollered up the stairs "You're not still in bed are you?" With that shout dh clearly shot out of bed and in a panic ran down the stairs.

"Do you want to go into the kitchen first or shall I?" was all I could manage to say.

I think we went in together and surveyed the scene. There were miniature smarties covering the entire floor surface of the kitchen. My laptop was sprinkled with a fine covering of salt and the girls had clearly been in the process of heading towards the breakfast cereal.

Clearly A&E had enjoyed a fabulous 30 minutes on their own in the kitchen. I am just thankful they hadn't manage to harm themselves in any way. I was initally blamed because I shouldn't have gone as dh said he needed more sleep. Dh was blamed for being completely irresponsible. Then we looked at the clock and realised there was no point in blaming each other. With only 20 minutes to go before the school run I cleaned the kitchen and dh finally got boy in the middle out of bed.

Needless to say I haven't made it on another early morning run since.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

There's no-one quite like Grandma

My blog posts have been rather sparse over the past few months as I have been extremely focused looking after my dear Mum who sadly lost her fight to the terrible illness that is breast cancer some six weeks ago.

Not wishing to dwell on this sadness I wanted to dedicate this blog to her and the wonderful world of Grandma's.

My Mum, Grandma Elaine took on a completely new role in my life when I first announced I was pregnant some 9.5 years ago. Already a Grandma 4 years earlier when my nephew arrived she was very nervous throughout each pregnancy and she would tell anyone she met that she was an expectant Grandma. She took on her role of Grandma/maternity carer most seriously being there for my Sister and I each time. She looked after our older children while we were giving birth and prepared small meals when we came home from hospital so as not to overwhelm us. She washed and cooked for us and loved rocking a crying newborn to sleep whilst singing "Ai la loo" - a song she invented for them all.

As her grandchildren grew up she had time for each and every one of them. She knew all of their after school activities down to the time and location, she knew what made each of them tick. She carried photos of them all with her in her wallet and she was never shy to show them to friends, acquaintances or strangers.

Grandma Elaine never lived close by to our family. She lived in Sheffield but a few years ago they bought an appartment round the corner so when they came to stay they took over school pick ups and generally helped me out. Two years ago my parents retired abroad to live close to the sea and to my sister and her kids. They moved back for 2 months for the arrival of A&E and when A&E were 6 months old we spent a month living with them in their new home abroad.

My Mum was the centre of our family and felt it her duty to keep herself up to date with her daughters and all her grandchildren. If I phoned her one morning to say boy in the middle wasnt well, wherever she was or whatever she was doing she would call back later in the day to see how he was doing.

She had a special knack in always choosing the perfect dresses for her granddaughters and nothing gave her greater pleasure in the past 18 months in choosing two coordinating dresses for A&E.

She had plenty of time for cuddles, she loved reading stories to the kids and telling them wonderful stories of her childhood such as "Uncle Stephen and the sugar" whilst spooning in food and persuading them to eat. She sat through dire ballet shows, choral recitals and school plays and delighted in anything her grandchildren did.

All her eight grandchildren totally adored her and she will always hold a very important place in all of their hearts. I lost my Grandma (my Mum's Mum) when I was 13 and because my Mum kept her memory very much alive she was and still is an important role model in my life. I promise that Grandma Elaine will remain a key figure for my children throughout their lives.

There really is no one quite like Grandma. And here is Grandma 'Laine with my Dad surrounded by their 8 "chickens" in June this year.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

We've started swinging!

The summer holidays may already seem like a distant memory and with eldest daughter and boy in the middle back at school A&E are missing out on a new favourite activity. Over the summer we spent a lot of time at the park. So much so that now at the mere mention of the word park A repeats and shouts out the word and both girls look for their shoes and get ready to go out.

For me as a mummy I love watching my kids have fun at the park. It's always so exciting when a baby can finally sit up and have a go on the swing. When A&E were smaller 1 swing was all we needed. Side by side or back to back they delighted by swinging together. As they have grown I now find myself approaching the swings with more trepidation.

Just like men waiting for luggage at the carousel at an airport guarding their space so they will get their bag off first, I have noticed a whole new breed of competitive swinging mummies.

On a good day at the park two swings will be available side by side. On a bad day we have to wait our turn. There are generally two types of mummy at the swings. There are those, like me, who as soon as a queue builds up feel the need to encourage the children off the swings. Then there are those who have waited their turn and are going to make sure their child has a long  turn. I have even witnessed mummies who use a swing like a highchair and spend 15 minutes spooning apple sauce into their baby with no swinging being done at all.

On Hampstead Heath one day we found two swings, one available and the other occupied by an overgrown toddler, too big for the swing, with his Grandpa. Grandpa was negotiating some sort of deal on his mobile phone but every so often came back to give another push. After 10 minutes of switching A&E over, the Grandpa finally finished his call and persuaded his bored grandson out of the swing offering us the seat as if he had just noticed us and was doing me a huge favour.

There really should be some sort of swinging etiquette. 2-3 minutes satisfies even the most excited swinger. Just because 10-15 minutes pushing a child is easier for the adult, it's time we learned to be more adventurous with our toddlers in the park.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

A day out fit for Princesses

We embarked on a family day out to Hampton Court Palace yesterday.  With my 11 year old niece visiting from abroad we thought we should do something cultural plus eldest daughter had studied the Tudor times in school this year and she was keen to go.

Now that A&E have turned into running toddlers just getting everyone loaded into the car at the start of the day was an achievement. Having packed the picnic and sourced a rain mac for everyone I tried to persuade the eldest kids off the trampoline and into the car. A&E were so excited to see the picnic bag that whilst I wasn't looking they took the opportunity of opening it and emptying the contents onto the hall floor.

Finally we did leave home only 50 minutes later than planned and with little traffic on the roads we reached Hampton Court Palace all set for a fun packed day. We purchased our tickets and the kids were all intrigued to be greeted by Henry VIII's courtiers at the gate. We then headed to the information area so that all of us could collect our velour jackets and cloaks (to ensure we felt the part) and audio commentary guides. Of course whilst all the children and indeed DH and I were rather keen to start our visit, the two younger members of our party reminded everyone around Hampton Court by their loud screaming that they needed lunch.  In search of the picnic area we headed towards the main gate where we had to de-robe and put our audio guides back as they couldn't leave the main palace area!

Having satisfied everyones lunch requirements we tried to lose the 3 eldest children in the maze but they all make their way back out and we re-grouped and headed back to start the tour of the palace. With less enthusiasm for the velour jackets we just picked up a couple of audio guides this time.

Persuading A&E into their stroller we headed round the Tudor Kitchens only to find that we could only go so far until the doorway was too narrow for us to fit through. Hesitant to take the girls out when they were actually sitting still, I reversed and then spent 10 minutes trying to find another way to get  back through to the other side of the kitchens and re-join the others.

Of course we couldn't keep them in their stroller for long especially as much of the living quarters of the palace are on the first floor, up large flights of stone steps. The stroller just fitted through the doorway of the buggy park room and so parked it and ran after A&E as they enjoyed their freedom.  The vast rooms were too exciting for A who ran as fast as she could down the corridors. E, feeling a little under the weather and tired preferred to be carried - by me. Thankfully DH and I could both be in charge of one toddler each which meant we were less likely to lose one of them.

As I entered one of Henry VIII's rooms carrying E and explaining to eldest daughter what the room was, out of the corner of my eye I noticed A run into the room, dash under the rope cordon and head towards the priceless antique table. Thankfully we called her and she ran back to us. The guide in the room explained that if she had touched the table the alarms would have all gone off and in fact she was quite surprised that she hadn't set off the alarms but then she realised she must have been too short and was under the height of the beam! I felt rather thankful for that.

As much as A&E had a great time picking up stones, trampling on flowers in the garden and crumbling crackers all over the palace, the three older children had a great day. They were thrilled to meet Henry VIII and Catherine Parr and they took part in a live historical theatre show about their lives and followed the story as to whether the King would order her arrest. They were all relieved when the King forgave her.

It was a fun packed exhausting day out and as we were in Henry VIII's bedroom I took the opportunity to sit down on a bench in front of the window. Both girls clambered up and peeked through the blind into the garden. It was clear the blinds were down to stop the sun from shining on the very well preserved preiceless tapestries. All of a sudden the girls took hold of the cords to the blinds, climbed down from the bench and were heading across the room with them. DH and I quickly picked up a girl each, removed the cords that they were both clutching and swiftly left the room.

As we headed out from the Palace to retrieve our stroller we saw a plaque commemorating the re-opening of part of the palace by the Queen following a fire some years earlier. Nervously smiling at each other we hoped there would be no further plaques needed following our visit.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

I'll only be 10 minutes...

With 4 children aged 18 months to 8 years I have found that I become reliant on friends, acquaintances, tradesmen and babysitters to look after my kids. School finally finished the other day and my kids really wanted a bbq for dinner. I was hesitant to take all four of them in the car just to buy charcoal and eldest daughter and boy in the middle were having a lot of fun with the gardeners. The gardeners have known us for years and as they were going to be at my house for another 25 minutes it gave me plenty of time to nip out with A&E to get the charcoal.

Needless to say the petrol station didn't sell the ready to light bbq charcoal that I like to use so I had to park in our local supermarket carpark which is indeed a hypermarket and take the girls with me. We eventually found a trolley with 2 seats in it and then we whizzed up and down the aisles until we came across the bag of charcoal that I wanted.

I headed for the do it yourself express checkout which as it transpired wasn't express and very few people using the checkout seemed to be doing it themselves as they all required assistance from the one assistant. When we finally had paid and purchased our 5kg bag of charcoal all that remained was for me to make it back to the car. In my wisdom and to save time I decided that I would take the girls out of the trolley and we would all walk to the car. As I was struggling through the car park holding one girl, a 5kg bag of charcoal and with the other girl walking holding my hand I realised how crazy I must have looked let alone how  dangerous it was. Luckily various cars in the carpark stopped to let us all get safely to the car.

Having loaded everyone back in I raced home. The gardeners had finished and I apologised. Why does a 10 minute excercise always turn into half an hour?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Spice Girls

I had a beautiful kitchen fitted in my house about 4 years ago. I chose lots of cool things like a pull out larder cupboard and deep pan drawers and then either side of the hob to fill the space I had small pull out racks put in. One contains my clingfilm and tin foil and the other side contains lots of small bottles of herbs and spices. A & E are now really adept at pulling out the foil and greaseproof paper and putting it back in and this week they seem to have found a new found love with the spice rack.

The other day I wondered why they both started sneezing but then I saw that the lid was slightly off the 7Thai Spice and they were both inhaling it. The lid also doesn't quite close on the ground ginger which they clearly liked the smell of and to their delight they discovered when a jar is thrown at the floor Mummy has to painstakingly sweep up mustard seeds. They really didn't enjoy the taste of the bayleaves and I am now totally out of paprika and turmeric.

I wouldn't mind but I have a kitchen/playroom, so right next to this abundance of pans, spices, straws, bleach and noodles are plenty of toys, books and games.  Clearly though I have two budding cooks in the making with a nose for fine spices.

As I look around my kitchen I think that they have almost explored every cupboard. They haven't emptied my cake tin cupboard for a couple of weeks but I have just noticed my two open shelves under my kitchen table full of cookery books - I assume once they get even more acquainted with my tools and spices they will start looking up suitable recipes in my books!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Mini Explorers

It's  been a few weeks since I last blogged and I realise now that the main reason for this is that Baby A and Baby E are no longer officially babies and have graduated and become non-stop toddlers. I am now unable to turn my back on them for more than a few seconds and I know that if my house suddenly seems very quiet I should start to panic.  The only reason I am actually able to write this is because after all the running around, playing and singing we have done this morning they have finally gone to sleep and I get my 90 minutes of freedom.

They have now realised how fun it is to be part of a double act and they have sussed out how to team up and become a force to be reckoned with. They have also taught me several things about myself and the house in which we live. For example I really had no idea that I owned 3 rolls of greaseproof paper until I found all 3 of them entirely unraveled on my kitchen floor. Seemingly overnight A&E have grown that bit more so that all the items that I put out of reach on my hall table/dressing table/kitchen table are no longer out of reach.

In the past couple of days alone I have picked up an entire box of cotton buds off my bedroom floor twice, re-wound 2 toilet rolls and several times a day one of them will come and present me with the cheese grater from the drawer in my kitchen.  When we are upstairs they love nothing better that to move the step stool in the bathroom to the side of the bath and stand on it to reach the nearest tap (thankfully it's the cold one) and then they stand there with their hands under the water.

Of course when one of them does something then the other one copies. If one tips their bowl of cereal off the table then unless I am super speedy the other one will follow suit. They definitely know how I operate though because as soon as I get one of them down from the highchair they immediately pass me my dustpan and brush.

Not only are they starting to become more independent at home but they have now realised that there is a whole world out there which doesn't have to be viewed from the confines of a pushchair. As much as I love my new pushchair they often manoeuvre themselves to a standing position so that all I can invariably do is take them out.

I realise now that they are at that great age where they are learning all the time, trying to say words and they think that every drawer, box and cupboard needs to be discovered. I have given up even trying to sit down if they are awake or tidy the toys away during daytime hours but then I think of the couple of programmes I have seen recenly - one about identical girl quads and another last night of quads and I just count myself lucky that at least if we are out I have a knee each for them to sit on and a hand each for them to hold. I may be outnumbered by 2:1 but I don't even imagine how the Mums ever leave the house if they are outnumbered 4:1 all of the same age.

With my 90 minutes slowly ticking away I better go and do a bit more sweeping and tidying so that A&E can get up and run riot around the playroom once more.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Now it's double double trouble

One set of twins is hard enough to keep track off now that they toddle around, ususally in opposite directions just so they can keep me on my toes.

Now I am in the enviable position of having not just one but two sets of twins in my life. It's quite hard fitting all of them into the double pushchair and I often find that one of them falls out and I have to pick them up off the floor. At least I haven't lost any of them yet.

Here are the latest additions to our house:

Baby A and Baby E nearly launched themselves out of their stroller a couple of weeks ago when we walked past the toy aisle in a supermarket. They were so animated in their love for these small dolls that I felt we had room in our lives for them as well.

Thankfully Baby A and Baby E are only 17 months old and are happy with one doll each. I wonder how long it will be until they both decide that they actually need to have twins and I will be taking out 2 girls, 2 dolls twin pushchairs and 4 dolls!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Mini Me

I have often had the same discussion with friends who say that sometimes they leave the house wearing the same colours as their kids. It's true that when my eldest kids were pre-school age if I had pulled out jeans and a red top to wear, you could be sure that boy in the middle would be wearing blue tracksuit trousers and a red top. There is something about my subconscious that obviously chooses the same colours for everyone.

Now thankfully eldest daughter and boy in the middle wear school uniform and pull out their own clothes at the weekend but obviously I have to choose all the outfits for Baby A and Baby E.

On Saturday we were invited out for lunch. I got dressed and then I got the girls dressed in their matching dresses, Baby A in pink with a white t-shirt and Baby E in purple with a white t-shirt. Dear husband was already out so I put the girls in the pushchair and walked round to my friends house.  It was only as I was halfway there that I actually looked down to notice that I was wearing my long purple dress with a white T-shirt underneath. I couldn't believe that I had left the house dressed the same as one of my 16 month old daughters!

Needless to say various people pointed this out throughout the course of the day. I made a note to self to try and avoid such clashes in the future.

Sunday came and eldest daughter I completed in the Race for Life in Regents Park with lots of friends. We left the house early and left dear husband in charge of the youngest children. I left the girls clothes out for him. When I got to the park I called dear husband and asked him to bring my fleece sweatshirt down for after the run as it was rather cold.

I completed the 5k run in my own personal best time of 28mins12seconds and eldest daughter amazed me by running it in 42mins. We then met up with dear husband, the other kids and lots of friends for a picnic. I pulled my sweatshirt out of the bag to keep warm and then realised I had done it again. Baby A, Baby E, eldest daughter and I were all wearing our Gap sweatshirts in various colours.

2 days in a row.

This morning when I got up I consciously put on my favourite lime green sweater, as this colour doesn't feature at all in the babys' wardrobe.

As I sit here writing this a thought is crossing my mind. We are going to a family function in a couple of weeks time and I have a feeling that my 3 daughters and I are all wearing very similar floral dresses for the occasion. I have a feeling that perhaps I have done it again.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Customer Service at its best!

I am on the look out for a new double pushchair at the moment. I love the one (pictured at the top of this blog)  that friends lent us when Baby A and Baby E were born. We took it out with us before they were born in order to chose a car that would fit us and the pushchair in and amazingly several cars were rejected before we found our lovely second hand Renault.

Now however as I find that I can almost go to the park without taking the stroller (provided I park at the gate and go straight back to the car) I am thinking of something a little more compact and lightweight that they can climb in and out of easily.

Last week dear husband and I managed to leave the eldest two children with Grandma N and we escaped to do some research in Mothercare. Dear husband stayed with the girls in the car and I found a lovely sales assistant who was remarkably knowledgable about the double pushchairs and happily came out to the car 3 times with different options to check if they would fit in the back. The first was too big, the second too lumpy but the third was just right.

We got the girls out and took them into the shop to have a go at sitting in the pushchair and they were remarkably still and happy and quite annoyed when we took them out of it.

As I like nothing more than to get the best price for the best product I thought I would do a bit more research. Having seen adverts on TV for baby offers at Asda, the next day I drove up with the girls to have a look.

I found the double pushchair stored safely in it's box on the shelf. I asked a member of staff if I could have more information such as the price and she apologised that she was just the cleaner so I headed off to find someone who may be able to help. To cut a very long story short there was no one to help. They did call a manager down who read out the information to me on the box - I love it when shop assistants do that. Did she think I can't read?

I then clearly made a terrible mistake by asking if I could see the pushchair out of the box. The assistant said "No". I pointed out that I nor anyone else would spend £100 on a pushchair that can't be taken out of the box, loaded with a baby and test driven. She then explained that the pushchair was rather heavy and cumbersome anyway and suggested I go to Babies R Us or Mothercare.

I thanked her for her honesty and we left.

As I drove out of the Asda car park and saw their slogan - "Saving you money every day" it made me laugh.

I have now placed an online order complete with my twins discount on the Mothercare website!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Precision timing - the Royals did it and so did we

The Royal Wedding day arrived and dear husband and I looked forward to watching it and hearing it - a challenge in a house of 4 children.

With the timetable scheduled weeks ago from Buckingham Palace we knew that we had to achieve quiet in the house for 11am. With no work and no school the kids remarkably all had a lie in until just after 8am. With the TV on in both the playroom and the lounge we started viewing the celebrations whilst feeding Baby A and Baby E their morning milk.

Boy in the middle woke up last and arrived downstairs in his pyjamas and dressing gown and asked if the "show" had already started.

We scheduled in breakfast for 6 of us and then Baby A and Baby E were dressed by their loyal attendant. Eldest daughter got herself dressed, took one of my hats and was collected by her chauffeur (thanks Dad) to be escorted to watch the wedding with Grandma and Grandpa.

Boy in the middle was dressed by his trusty page and then as 11am approached dear husband and I cunningly put the babies down for their sleep, handed my phone to boy in the middle so he could sit and play Angry Birds in peace without me confiscating the phone after 10 minutes.

We put the volume up on the tv, sat down and watched the whole event in silence. Every so often dear husband tried to persuade boy in the middle to glance up from the phone screen to watch the wedding and a part of history but each time he replied "Why should I?" and "No".

After the ceremony the girls woke up. They were placed in their open top carriage and driven round to Grandma and Grandpa for the Wedding breakfast and to watch the famous balcony kisses and see the fly past. Following this we made it round to Grandma N for an evaluation and afternoon tea.

Precision timing at its finest. What an achievement.

Many congrats to Princess Catherine and Prince William. Thanks for a lovely day.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Which one are you?

Over the long bank holiday and festive period we have spent lots of fun times together as a family of 6 along with extended friends and family. No longer spending the majority of the day on my own with the girls I have found myself clarifying and checking who is Baby A and who is Baby E a few times a day. Feeling the constant need to distinguish their individuality they have been dressed where possible in their traditional colours of Baby A in pink and Baby E in purple.

Last month at twins club this poem was given out and I feel it a fitting description on behalf of Baby A and Baby E.

Which one are you?
Look at me
Look at him
Just the same
Just my twin
Same hair, same eyes
Same face, same size
Same freckles, same nose
Same expression, same clothes
Same same same!

No I'm not
Nor am I
I'm me
So am I
Different thoughts, different dreams
Different plans, different schemes
Different likes, different hates
Different games, different mates

Two of us who look the same
 But both of us have got a name!

Written by David Harmer

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Which direction first?

As predicted we went back to buy shoes for Baby A today. One week exactly since Baby E got hers.

As a treat for the girls after exploring the shoe shop and licking all the mirrors and shuffling all the pairs of shoes I took them to the pet shop opposite. I thought it only fair to let them both get out of the stroller and get up close to the bunny rabbits. They were completely mesmerised for a good 5 minutes and then my worst nightmare began. Baby E is really fast on her feet now so she walked off towards the hamsters and within a second had turned a corner and was out of my direct line of vision. Baby A still a little tentative in her new shoes had to be quickly picked up so we could dash around the corner. Thoughts came back to my bag complete with wallet on the back of the stroller that I had abandoned, but I figured it was best to take care of the girls first.

I re-grouped the two girls and the stroller and we settled to watch the hamsters for a few seconds before Baby E saw the display of little packets of hamster and rabbit treats.  She proceeded to pull not just one or two but about eight packets off the shelf before I could stop her. Baby A meanwhile was having a chat with one of the bunnies again and was very animated with it. Baby E lost interest with the animals and was more keen on the packets of dog chews and treats that lined the shelves at perfect to reach toddler height.

I managed somehow to get both girls and the stroller over to the fish section but as they both turned and tried to wander off in opposite directions I knew that it was time to leave.  Loudly voicing their annoyance I quickly put them back in the stroller and headed for the exit and my car.

Ever since I found out I was expecting twins this was always the time I wondered about. How on earth will I ever go anywhere again with two girls who both wish to go in opposite directions? I guess I will either have to only take them to a safe confined space, take eldest daughter with me who is slightly more responsible than boy in the middle, or as I have learnt at twins club, I may actually have to invest in a couple of pairs of reins.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

One bunch or two?

It's now 5 days since Baby E got her pair of shoes, and not surprisingly we will be going back to the shoe shop this week as Baby A has now taken walking in her stride. Soon they will both of have shoes and although they will be different styles it will make them identical once more.

However this week I have come up with a new cunning plan. Whilst I am waiting to get Baby E's named identity bracelet fixed they have now reached the stage where they have enough hair that we need to tie up to keep it out of their eyes. It took eldest daughter 4.5 years to reach this stage (although she now has long thick curly hair I did at one point assume it would never grow) so they are doing very well.

Earlier today I spent a few hours searching through hundreds of clips and bobbles in eldest daughters room to find some small bobbles for the girls. I did find a few and then we got very creative. Baby E has a few more strands of hair on her head so now Baby A has one top knot and Baby E has two.

I was very proud of myself for achieving this and the girls looked extremely cute with their new styles. All was going very well until they went out for a walk in the stroller. Bored of their clip on toys they have really started playing together.  Baby A managed to pull out both bobbles from Baby E and then Baby E looked longingly at Baby A and thought about retaliation. She didn't (this time) and Baby A couldn't reach her own top knot. We didn't do badly - one out of three top knots stayed in and we didn't lose any bobbles (yet).

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Not so identical now...

Since they were born we have tried our hardest to ensure that Baby A and Baby E are very much individuals. Obviously we compare them - it's impossible not to. Just like we compare eldest daughter and boy in the middle. Everyone compares their own children.

With twins in the mix in our house we do try to remember that they are two little girls. They are inextricably  tied by a bond that the rest of us will never really be able to understand or break through but nevertheless two separate beings. From day one we have dressed them differently and watched them gradually change.

Baby E being the slightly larger at birth - that 3 ounces made a great difference, has always been the one to do everything first. I guess she is just making up for being born second. If she cut her first tooth on a Monday, by the following Monday Baby A cut her first tooth. Baby E rolled, sat up and crawled followed exactly a week later by her sister.

Now however as they have hit 15 months old the are finally developing their own personalities. Although 80% of the time they are the same, I can finally say yes and reassure anyone who asks that Baby A is the talker and Baby E is the walker.

Baby A has a huge repertoire of mama, night night, banana and more. Baby E says nothing.
Baby A still feels her knees are the best mode of transport and Baby E nearly runs.

Obviously having twins means they do generally do things at the same time. After all they eat together, play together and sleep together.

So I found myself out of my comfort zone with them yesterday. As I looked at their lovely leather pram shoes that they have had for 4 months, I noticed that there was barely any of the lilac colour left on Baby E's pair and there were holes in the soles of Baby A's. So armed with my TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Birth) discount card off I ventured to Clarks shoe shop.

And that's when reality sunk in. Baby E walked beautifully round the shop and I was able to choose her first pair of shoes. Choosing girls shoes is a joy at any age but especially this milestone first pair. Naturally my eye zoned in immediately to the lovely pink pair, but then I remembered that Baby A is my pink girl and I felt myself starting to panic. Would I have to buy Baby E a pair of red shoes? Worse than that did I have to buy a pair that flashed? Then finally I saw the pair in Baby E's trademark purple and I picked out the gorgous plum colour walking shoes. Baby E put them on, wondered what on earth they were, paused for a minute and then proudly stumbled around in them. Meanwhile baby A carried on crawling, had a lovely time pulling all the shoes off the shelves and got back in the stroller still wearing her pram shoes complete with holes.

For the past couple of weeks I had claimed that Baby E would just have to wait for shoes until Baby A was walking so I would only have to make this outing once. However as the days passed by, the sun has begun to shine and all they want to do is play in the garden I had to give in.  The shopping trip wasn't in any way stressful which is a relief as I know that I will be back in a week or so to purchase the pink pair.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

One of those days...

I took out a great insurance policy a few weeks ago - it's called a home emergency cover. I was sold on the policy as it only cost £75 for the year and it included cover in case amongst other disasters you manage to lock yourself out of the house. Having locked myself out once before and it costing £85 to re-gain entry I thought this was a great policy to have.

You can imagine where this blog is heading...

Dear husband and eldest daughter were out this morning. Baby A and Baby E were having their morning sleep and boy in the middle and I were getting lunch ready for guests. Once the babies woke up I gave them lunch, got them dressed and put them in the stroller as I had agreed to meet up with dear husband and eldest daughter. We were running late to meet them so I decided to leave my bag behind, but I grabbed my coat and the key, closed the front door and attempted to lock it. The key wouldn't turn so I tried a bit harder, wiggled the key, pulled it out a bit, tried again and that was when it dawned on me that my whole bunch of keys with car keys and spare keys was on the other side of the lock.

I had no bag, no belongings, no phone.  When I have locked myself out before I have jumped over the wall and let myself in through the back patio door. Only problem was I just had the single front door key with me. I was only going out for a few minutes so didn't bring anything else.

A few doors up the road lives a guy who runs his own security system company. He installs burglar alarms so I assumed he could burgle us back into our house. As I knocked on his door I remembered about our great insurance policy and then I tried to delve into the deepest part of my brain to drag out who it was with. I couldn't. My neighbour sympathetically acknowledged my predicament, but didn't have the magic locksmith tool and also didn't know who my insurance policy might be with.

By this point Baby A and Baby E were screaming in the stroller as they thought they were going for a walk so I decided to take the babies to meet up with dear husband and perhaps he would know the name of our insurer. He also couldn't remember. In the end my neighbour called his mate the locksmith who promised to be round within 30 minutes.

So for 30 minutes, the 6 of us, my mother in law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their kids all gathered in our driveway. Our house is on a corner and in that 30 minutes several friends passed the house, our immediate neighbours and their kids came out to play and I felt more and more foolish as dear husband felt the need to explain my stupidity to all our friends. My brother-in-law spent a considerable amount of time waggling a bent coat hanger through my letter box and there was a lot of discussion about sending one of the smaller boys up a ladder and through our bathroom window! Before long though we all cheered as the LOCKSMITH van drove down the road. He must always receive such a great welcome when he gets to a stranded client.

4 seconds later with his magic tool we were all back in the house. We are £85 worse off and now I have to have write a compelling letter and persuade our insurers to pay me back for this calamity. I now know who the insurance policy is with but I am thinking of putting up a sign in my hallway - not sure what it should say. Perhaps it should be a reminder to remove my keys on the way out, or alternatively it should be to greet me as I re-gain entry. After the stress I felt this morning, I think the poster that adorns the wall in a friends house would be fitting - "Keep Calm and Carry On".

Thursday, 31 March 2011

What's wrong with zips?

Any Mum spends a considerable amount of time doing up presstuds, poppers and buttons on a baby's clothes. In my life it sometimes feels like I spend the majority of the day doing this task. This in itself is no mean feat with 2 almost toddlers who would rather do anything than having their clothes changed.

2 morning nappy changes means undoing all the poppers on 2 fleece sleepsuits, 2 babygrows and 2 vests. For some reason I often do the vests and  and babygrows back up so that they can eat breakfast in their pyjamas and allowing them to be covered with cheerios and toast crumbs.

After breakfast we have to remove these 2 layers of clothes to put on fresh vests (at least 3 poppers each), and clothes. Dresses, tops, trousers, dungarees - pretty much any item of clothing has poppers, buttons, toggles, occasionally velcro but never zips.

I do often look at the lovely baby boutique vests that don't need to go over their heads but are made in a crossover style. Great for not annoying a baby by pulling a tight vest over their heads, not so great as it takes 3 times as long to do up. These are the sort of items that were designed by someone with no children. Don't even get me started on the French designer vests with ribbons that need tying up - there are simply not enough hours in a day.

When we go out it's not just a case of putting the girls into the car, grabbing my bag and the keys and leaving, oh no I have to first put their coats on. As pre-walkers all my kids spend a lot of time in snowsuits as I like to ensure they are cosy from top to toe. I invested in rather snazzy 2 piece snowsuits for my girls and
remarkably the way the feet piece and the jacket piece are connected is with poppers! I have got it down to a fine art and now it only take 8 minutes to get 2 girls into 2 snowsuits with all the poppers attached correctly so that each girl only has one leg down each leg hole.  I haven't managed to find another family member that can get Baby A and Baby E into them so swiftly.

At the end of the day with just a couple of nappy changes in between we remove the daytime clothes and get back into vests, babygrows and fleece sleepsuits.

In just one day I have worked out that I do up a minimum of 110 poppers/pres studs and buttons. Not only do I need to teach Baby A and Baby E to walk and talk, I really need to get them adept at self-dressing. Failing that they are going to spend the next few years wearing leggings and tops and I have made a promise to only buy sleepsuits and coats with zips.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Springing forward

I remember fondly my days pre-children when the clock sprung forward an hour at the end of March and I never understood how my parents told me that I would have one hour less in bed. I didn't - I just got up one hour later.

Now however I have a different view and firmly believe we should cancel BST and GMT altogether. Why didn't we just move the clocks forward half an hour on Saturday night and then live permanently on this time zone? I can't really see any major change to life and the world, but to all those of us with young children we would reap the benefits.

Each Sunday morning I go for a run at 8.30am so this week I really did understand having one hour less in bed. But I got up and wearily met up with my running mate to go on a rather bracing 5km run. Of course I was up anyway, as Baby A and Baby E unused to telling the time were up on the dot of 8am as that had been 7am the day before. I did leave eldest daughter and boy in the middle fast asleep as I went out but seconds later they were up and demanding dear husband to make them a whole concoction of cereal for breakfast.

It wasn't until bedtime came that I realised the effects of the time change. I was lucky in that we had been out in the afternoon and so Baby A and Baby E has managed to miss their sleep making them so exhausted by 7pm, which of course had been 6pm the day before, they were thankful to get into their cots.

On the other hand we tried to persuade boy in the middle and eldest daughter into bed for 7.30pm and there was no chance that any sleeping was going to happen so early in the day. It resulted in a 9pm bedtime and then we had to drag them both out of bed this morning to get them out of the house.

And so as Spring is now well and truly here we do have lighter mornings and lighter evenings to look forward to but as a Mum of 4 I know that my battles will now begin. Firstly my eldest two kids like to go to bed when it is dark outside. They seem to forget every year that they go to bed in the summer when it's light. Even I sometimes go to sleep at night when it is light. No matter how many blackout blinds I have bought over the years, there is still a tiny chink of light around the edges and children over the age of about 4 can no longer be fooled.

Will my kids be up bright and early at 7am every day for school because it is light outside? Somehow it doesn't seem to work that way. The evenings may be lighter and longer but for the next 6 months my eldest two are going to go to bed later and later I will still have to drag them out of bed in the mornings.

But it's ok because in 6 months time we will move the clocks back to GMT and I will be able to have an extra hour in bed on that Sunday morning . 

Who am I kidding - I will have to be up at 6am instead of 7am.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

It had to happen one day...

I can't believe it finally happened and that I am about to blog it. By blogging it I am acknowledging the ultimate parenting error that I managed to make last night.

I still have 4 happy and healthy children and to be fair none of them are traumatised because my mothering abilities managed to slip for one night.

I only realised the error of huge proportions when eldest daughter and I went to get Baby E out of her cot this morning, and in one swift second eldest daughter looked at Baby E and said "Why is Baby A sleeping in that cot?"

Yes I had actually done it. I had dressed my identical twin girls entirely in the wrong pyjamas, wrong fleece sleepsuits and I had put them to sleep in the wrong cots. When they had both woken up at about 10pm I had given them both a cuddle and called them by the wrong name. Perhaps that was why they took so long to settle back to sleep because I was just confusing them both.

To cut myself some slack they are identical twins and they do look the same. Since they were born people have asked if I have ever got them mixed up but I haven't. As newborns Baby E had an umbilical hernia so we could easily tell the difference and then one day dear husband noticed that the shape of their ears were different. Also Baby A has always had a slightly narrower face than Baby E. But lets face it we are really clutching at straws to tell them apart.

Thankfully on their first birthday Grandma and Grandpa bought them a bracelet each with their name on. These bracelets have never been taken off, so now we have no excuse in mixing them up.

So back to last night. It was bedtime. We had to get the babys into bed for 7pm as we were taking the oldest two kids out. The babys were playing on the bed and dear husband went downstairs to get the milk. In a flash Baby A catapaulted off our bed and Baby E cried because I had to put her down to pick up her sister. There were a lot of tears but then we sat with them as it got darker outside with only a small light on and they happily drained their bottles of milk. Dear husband and I each pulled a vest and babygrow from the pile in front of us and dressed the girls. We then put on their fleece babygrows and they snuggled down into their cots.

At some point during that whole episode of bedtime we obviously thought we were holding the other baby to the one we were. The problem is that half way through drinking their milk they crawled off to play for a while and then when it came to dressing them I imagine that the other baby crawled towards me and I just presumed I still had the baby I had had previously. As I write this I am starting to feel less guilty as I know that it's an easy mistake to make.

Since before they were born we always said that we wouldn't dress them the same as it's better for their individuality. I also like the fact that at a glance across the room I can tell from the clothes they are wearing which baby is which.  Now however I am wondering whether if I had conditioned myself to always dress them the same perhaps by now I would  recognise the ever so minimal differences in their faces and last nights mix up may never have happened.

I know that before long they will be talking and will be able to correct me and then they will have years to trick me by pretending to be each other. But I think as identical twins they will absolutely have a right to do this.

Tonight I know I haven't made any mistakes. They are wearing the correct fleece sleepsuits and both girls seemed to breathe a sigh of relief (as did I) as I put them to bed in their correct cots.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Fish 'n' fowl

Often after school outings involve splashing in the pool with your kids, watching them pirouette at ballet, running around the park with them, teaching them to ride their bikes or other such fun activities.

On Thursday I had the pleasure of taking Baby A and Baby E to be vaccinated against chickenpox with eldest daughter and boy in the middle for support and to assist me. Not being able to have this vaccination on the good old NHS I had to go to a private clinic. It was all rather clandestine as I followed the instructions that had been texted to me. I was not to park outside a red garage and I was to go down the side of a house and find a door to the surgery.

All good in theory until the path down the side of the house wasn't wide enough for me to get my double stroller through by myself. Finding the "surgery" and the receptionist was straightforward enough and then between us we managed to manouevre the stroller with babies who wanted to jump out down the pathway. With everyone in situe at our alloted time it turned out the nurse was stuck in traffic. Baby A and Baby E used this time to crumble crackers all over the portacabin surgery floor.

With images in my mind of two screaming babies needing to be comforted I couldn't believe it when Baby A who has been crying due to teething pain on and off for 5 days, didn't actually let out a murmer when the needle went in. Baby E cried for a couple of seconds - it was all rather painless. The pain of getting the stroller out onto the street again was worse than the injections.

With no food prepared at home I felt it best to take the kids out for supper and so we chose a fish and chip restaurant around the corner. I've never taken all 4 of my kids out to eat by myself and now I know why.

Firstly their were no highchairs. Secondly I forgot the babies cups. Thirdly Baby A resumed her role as the screamer, refused to eat and cried continuously. One plate of goujons, one plate of chips and a couple of bottles of water later I urged the oldest two to eat quickly. Baby E had a rather brilliant time sitting on a chair and eating piecs of goujon with a fork.

To top it all off the restaurant only accepted cash to which I had none. Thankfully there was a cashpoint next door so I didn't even have to consider leaving boy in the middle to wash up.

All in all it wasn't a terrible outing.  Dear husband was thrilled at the chance to eat proper fish and chips that we brought home in a take out box. Next week however when we have a free afternoon I think we may see if its less stressful at the park.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Couscous recipe for disaster

Boiling Water
Chicken pieces
2 Bowls
2 Spoons
2 Babies

Fluff the couscous with boiling water. Add small pieces of chicken to the couscous.
Place the chicken and cous cous into 2 small bowls.
Add a spoon into each bowl.
Place the bowl in front of a baby in the highchair.
Watch the disaster unfold before your eyes!

I regularly serve couscous to Baby A and Baby E becasue they enjoy it and it is so quick to make. Each time I make it and serve it and then spend 3 days finding it all over the house, I wonder why I don't just stick to pieces of pasta.  Not only does the couscous get down both babies vests, it fills every corner of the highchair, the floor looks like a giant couscous spillage and I can often find it hours later in the babies cots or amongst their toys.

My biggest gripe however is that I haven't yet discovered a dustpan and brush that will successfully clear the stuff off the floor and out of my life! As much as I sweep it the stuff remains stubbornly on my wooden floor. As I write this I am looking at the post lunch disaster area and realise I must get the baby wipes out to properly free my kitchen from the stuff.

As much as Baby A and Baby E enjoyed playing with it, flinging it across the table and wiping it through their hair I wonder if any of it was consumed at all?!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Ready, Steady....Climb!

Why do children and babies feel the need to climb pretty much continuously? In a typical afternoon from the gates of the school pick up until I finally get 4 children into bed, I feel like I am monitoring various stages of an assault course.

In the cold of the playground whilst waiting for the eldest children, invariably Baby E practices her new trick of proudly removing her arms from her snowsuit and the straps and sits forward waving excitedly at the other children. She then tries to lever a leg over the bar of the stroller and I often catch her before she launches herself towards the concrete. 

Once the oldest children appear, boy in the middle leaps out from the classroom, throws his bag on the back of the stroller, dives into my bag for an immediate snack, jumps over the wheels to shout at his sisters and then bounces towards the car.

The second I unlock the car the eldest two fight to open the boot, clamber up and over the seats and then usually proceed to jump over to the middle row to fight that one of them wants to sit in between the babies. To prevent fighting from within the troops I make them both sit in their seats in the back whilst strapping the girls into their seats usually holding them down with a hand in their tummys as given half the chance they would like to have a go at exploring the inside of my car.

Back at home and I like to contain everyone to play in the kitchen/playroom, but if the door opens you can be sure that at least one baby but probably two will quietly crawl out towards the stairs and by the time I have wondered where they are, they are usually at the top of the stairs, waving at me through the open stair gate.

Dinner time and the wonder of the modern highchair. Four styles of highchair later and I still haven't found one that means my girls will remain seated for the duration. I find myself bored by my constant repetition of "Sit on your bottom", "Sit down" and all that happens is that they bob up and down for a bit, smile and generally remain standing. This makes eating chicken and rice even messier and the spread of debris wider across the floor. Normally at least one baby climbs out of her highchair and onto the table to get a closer look at the fruitbowl. This signifies the end of the meal.

While I clear up I try and get all four children to play together. In our playroom we have one of those wonderful Ikea childrens chairs which spins around and has a cover on it that can be pulled down for privacy. After threatening to throw this chair out after four years of two children playing in it, I find myself once again wishing I had removed it from existence. Baby E has taken a liking to sitting in this chair. Baby A therefore gets jealous and climbs on top of her. With boy in the middle cheering them on encouraging this wild behaviour, and madly spinning the chair around, I have to do my best to prevent both girls hurtling out at top speed.

As bath time approaches all the children race upstairs. If I change the babies in their bedroom there is a lot of running between the two cots and often boy in the middle climbs up and into a cot in a general plea to be a baby again.  Meanwhile in the bedroom next door, eldest daughter usually has to be reminded to stop trampolining on her bed and Baby E chooses this time of day to pull out the contents from various drawers and climbs in them.

From the safe (ish) confines of the bath it isn't long before both babies practice their ballet by lifting their legs up and onto the sides of the bath in an attempt to get out.

At bedtime boy in the middle climbs up his ladder to bed, the babies climb (with assistance) into their cots and eldest daughter pirouettes her way into bed. I breathe a sigh of relief, listen to the quiet bedtime sounds and then I abseil back downstairs into the abyss of mess and destruction that they have made throughout the day.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Do you have a clipboard?

Is it me or have things become a lot more child friendly since we were kids?

I remember being dragged round museums and stately homes by my parents. Sometimes there was something interesting to see but often I just used to look forward to the picnic or the stop at the ice-cream van. Nowadays every attraction seems to be designed with children in mind and that ever exciting activity sheet to fill in. 

Since eldest daughter was born 8 years ago we have re-designed famous pieces of Art at the Tate modern, found out exactly what each dinosaur ate at the Natural History Museum and found out how to wrap a mummy at the British Museum. But it isn't just the large museums that provide activity sheets. Everywhere seems to have them these days. I do wonder when the day will come that we will enter Tesco or the Swimming Pool and be handed out a sheet to fill in.

And so it was on our sojourn to the new forest last week that we stumbled across the New Forest visitor centre in Lyndhurst and hidden in the corner of the gift shop was a door labelled museum. We had stopped for a picnic and to use the facilities and decided that perhaps the museum would be something to look at for half an hour or so. We didn't imagine it to be that interesting but as the saying goes "Never judge a book by its cover or a museum by its door".  Kids went in for free and at £3.50 per adult it seemed a bargain and at least we could get out of the rain.

On opening the door to the museum we were faced with a host of activity and colouring sheets, clipboards and pencils. The museum may have only been small - essentially one big area downstairs and a gallery upstairs but it was the best designed museum for kids I have ever been to. After an hour we had to send the dear husbands out to pay for more parking. There was so much to do. The kids could dress up in animal costumes, watch a nature film, do colouring, puzzles and a treasure hunt. There was even a beanbag area and megablocks and books for babies. We had no idea the New Forest could create so many ideas for a museum.

A couple of days later we visited Beaulieu and the activity sheet here covered the entire site. I felt it my duty as a parent to educate my children and make sure that we filled in all sections of the questionnaire in order that they could receive their certificate at the end. It covered the abbey, the stately home, the motor museum and even the gardens.

Setting off enthusiastically for the abbey we headed round the same small section 3 times in search of the specific floor tile shown on the guide and then we had a rather heated discussion about what the cloister was and how many arches we could see around it. Part of the motor museum was being re-developed so this made it all the more challenging as several of the cars had moved location so it made it all the more fun. I felt like I looked round the entire gallery just looking at the numberplates desperate to find out what vehicle had the plate ML570. I cheered so loudly when we found it the other visitors must have assumed I was a crazy lady.

By the end of our day at Beaulieu we felt proud that we had found all the items and educated our children about the grounds and Lord Montague himself  (whose flag was flying that day so we knew he was at home - question 7).  It's great to educate your own children.

When we asked them in the car what they remembered from the day eldest daughter said that the picnic had been fantastic and boy in the middle was very excited to have been to the home of King Monty View! Ah we can but do our best!!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Are we nearly there yet?

We took the advantage of having a different half term to the rest of the country and  went on a 2 night stay to the New Forest this week.

We weren't sure we would actually get there as we went self catering so had to load 6 people, a double stroller, luggage and food into a 7 seater car.  Eldest daughter happily resigned herself to the seat in the back row and boy in the middle had the seat fitting to his name - the middle seat in the middle row.  Dear husband was convinced that everything would fit in to the car and to give him credit everything did fit in. However when we opened the door next to Baby A, a blanket and bottle of milk fell out, when we opened the door next to Baby E, boy in the middle's trunky tried to escape and when the passenger door was opened a bag of snacks and some tin foil trays fell into the gutter. We didn't dare open the boot!

Going away in this country means spending a considerable amount of time in the car which is always fun. There is that fabulous initial period of time when the babies sleep, and the eldest two can entertain themselves with a book/computer game. Five minutes into our journey eldest daughter piped up from the back and asked "Are we nearly there yet?" An hour into the journey we had to delve into the snack bag and found ourselves telling the children that they couldn't have the tuna sandwich they wanted as it would make too much mess so we handed them chocolate instead.

We managed to avoid any major fights on the first day but this was the kids gearing up for the following day. Setting off to explore an owl and otter centre approximately 8 miles from the hotel, we were entirely reliant on our friends who were with us as they had all the directions on their iPhone. We set off for the short journey and boy in the middle decided he would entertain us all with a song. He doesn't really do singing though, most people would describe it as shouting. So he was sitting in the middle of the car shouting, I was trying to keep up with the silver toyota in front, Baby A and Baby E having had their morning sleep were munching away on crackers and eldest daughter in the back clearly felt left out and wasn't enjoying the shouting so she decided to whack her brother on the head to make him stop.

This then provoked a solid 5 minutes of screaming and crying from boy in the middle. Meanwhile I was trying hard to follow our friends who were now 4 cars in front of us. Needless to say we had to stop the car to check boy in the middle's head and to stop him from sobbing. We lost our friends but figured we would catch up with them. However all the roads in the new forest seem very similar. They are all flat with fields on either side and lots of wild horses meandering about. I then spotted a silver car that had turned onto another road and wondered if it was them. With no reception we couldn't contact them so I took the decision to follow the silver car. Obviously it wasn't them and the short 8 mile journey turned into a 45 minute disaster. I made 3 u-turns, asked 4 people for directions, almost drove the wrong way down a one way road, had to stop once to let a horse slowly cross the road, had to stop again to find pasta for Baby A and Baby E and then by some miracle we stumbled across the owl and otter centre in time for lunch.

Blaming the older two kids entirely for this unnecessarily long journey I had a plan for the way home - the new version of 400 green bottles hanging on the wall - that should keep us going!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Lewis Hamilton watch out!

Maybe it's in the genes. My Dad, Grandpa D, a mechanic by trade also used to race saloon cars back in the '60s. I grew up in a home where the TV was turned off if football was on, but if a motor-race was on then the noise of the cars flying around the tracks filtered through the house from the living room.

Baby A and Baby E may not be able to walk yet, but they have developed a fascination for their ride on trucks and have learnt to drive. They climb aboard, rev up for a few minutes and then the race starts. The only person who really thinks they are racing is boy in the middle who cheers them on and encourages them to take the lead. Baby A and Baby E don't seem to be that competitive yet and in fact they clap each other whether they go forwards or invariably backwards. They can pick up quite a speed across the kitchen floor and they are quite adept at maneovering around the hairpin bends made up of too many highchairs in their way.

Not only do they seem to be great drivers but great mechanics too. They enjoy checking out the rear wheel axles, testing to check if the horn works and are often found checking the oil levels with a breadstick!

Happy Driving girls! (Perhaps they will work out which way round they are supposed to sit on them soon!)

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Sink or swim!

Sometimes it is worth considering how much we really want to go out as a family. On Sunday we had a clear afternoon with no scheduled parties so decided that it would be fun to go swimming at our local healthclub.

We got all our stuff ready and if our neighbours had seen us loading up the car they may have thought we were going away for a few days. We had 2 large pink baby inflatable swimseats and 3 large gym bags containing an assortment of towels, dressing gowns, snacks, shampoo, change of clothes and various other essential items.
As we had put all the bags and both babies in the car and eldest daughter was pulling on her boots, boy in the middle announced that he didn't want to go as he had a tummy ache. Dear husband and I glanced at each other and assumed this was perhaps some phantom tummy ache and we persuaded him into the car. He did look a little on the pale side but we thought he would change his mind once we got to the pool.
Needless to say he genuinely didn't feel well and although he did get into his swimming trunks and dip his toe in the pool he started to shiver and we changed him back into his clothes. He then spent the next hour sitting by the side of the pool eating plain pasta that we had brought with for the babies and asking us if we could go home. The other three children did have a great time, so we felt we really had to go along with the enjoyment of the majority of our children.

We could almost describe it as a successful outing except for the fact that:
  • Of the two swimming pull ups I brought for the girls, one was ripped and so dear husband had to drip through the healthclub to purchase one from the reception
  • The bottle of shampoo that I had brought with to wash everyone's hair was entirely empty so they all had their hair washed with shower gel
  • As I was about to put both babies into their swimseats in the pool, boy in the middle needed the toilet so dear husband had to drip again and take him as I tried my best to get the two girls into their seats
  • Eldest daughter cried because I hadn't had a chance to swim just with her
  • As eldest daughter and I returned to the pool after we had showered, Baby A had just catapaulted out of the stroller headfirst onto the concrete and was looking a little woozy.
  • When 5 of us were changed and ready to go home, dear husband wondered if he would be allowed to get dressed or if he had to drive home dripping in his trunks (obviously a shower was out of the question)
We did make it home and 4 cups of milk later all the children went to bed. At least we succeeded in tiring them all out so they were asleep by the time the babysitter came and we could go out.

Unfortunately boy in the middle genuinely wasn't well and he has spent the last two days at home with a temperature.

Next time we have a free Sunday afternoon perhaps we will stay at home and watch a movie.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

If you throw in a penny it may make a wish come true!

I had to feel a little sorry for boy in the middle today. When Baby E notices the door to the playroom is open she either likes to head for the stairs and see how far she can get or she heads for the downstairs toilet and plays with the toothbrush and toothpaste belonging to the older two kids.

A couple of weeks ago I had retrieve a toothbrush from the toilet, bin it and then replace it. I always intend to put the toilet lid down and close the door to the toilet but it doesn't always happen and so it was today that I found a five pence piece at the bottom of the toilet. Boy in the middle had been given his pocket money this week in five pence pieces and I had seen that he had stored them safely where he thought no one would be able to get them under the kitchen table on the floor.

I can only imagine that Baby E picked it up, crawled with it to the toilet and dropped it in. I am thankful that she didn't swallow it but a little disappointed that at such a young age she feels the need to throw a coin into any water that she sees. I only wonder what wish she made.

When boy in the middle came home from school we discovered the coin in the toilet. He asked me if I could get it for him to which I asked him why he couldn't get it himself. He looked at me to see if I was serious and then asked me for a glove to put on his hand so he could get it. I did genuinely intend to remove the coin myself but he happily put on a disposable multi purpose glove and plunged his hand into the toilet water. I was concerned that the water would get inside the glove, but he stretched and reached and got his coin out of the toilet. I was rather impressed with this especially since I didn't have to get involved. He removed the glove, his hand was dry, he washed the coin and this time he stored it safely in his wallet.

As this was going on I noticed Baby E out of the corner of my eye. She may only be 1 but she was watching what was going on, smiling and clapping her hands and then I knew her wish had come true!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Let's cut out the middle man and buy a cow!

I never really thought about how much milk my family drank. I used to buy a huge 3.4 litre container of semi skimmed milk when I went shopping, but often used to call dear husband on his way home from work to ask him to pick up some more whenever we were running out.

Then towards the end of last year, a milkman knocked on the door one evening during the kids bathtime, to let us know he was expanding into our area and were we interested. With a baby in my arms I leaned out of our bedroom window to see who was at the door.  Dear husband made it downstairs with another baby in arms to open the front door. He was about to say thanks but no thanks, when I shouted down like the voice from above that it was a brilliant idea and when could they start delivering? I was thrilled at the prospect of not having to lug milk back from the supermarket every couple of days as it really weighs the stroller down and if you try and put it in the basket under the seats it drags on the floor and often ends up splitting and therefore pouring out along the pavement on the way home. But hey there's no use crying over it.

We signed up there and then for 1 litre of full fat milk for the girls and 5 litres of semi skimmed a week for the rest of us.  I felt rather posh to have a milk delivery and was pleased to be able to delete it from my online shopping order and to walk past the milk aisle in the supermarkets.

These quantities of milk seemed to work fine until the babies turned 1 and they were able to progress from formula to full fat cows milk.

We never see the milk delivery as it arrives at 5am and thankfully I am never up any more at this time of the day. The only way to communicate with Terry the milkman is by text. However I had no way of knowing how much to increase my milk order by and invariably whenever I do text him I miss out my home address so he always has to text back to ask me where he should be delivering this increased quantity.

Therefore I felt it important to put Terry in the picture. I am sure he was delighted to hear that we had twins who are now 1 and who can now drink full fat cows milk and that their mother has no idea how much they drink. I increased my order to 3 litres of full fat milk a week but warned him it may well change. I have just spent the last 3 weeks texting Terry on such a regular basis that dear husband is wondering if it is just milk that I am getting from him.

In the end we have settled on a steady 11 litres of milk a week - 6 full fat and 5 semi skimmed! This is 22 pints of milk! Of course I am sure Terry is delighted with our order and is probably sad that I seem to have stopped texting him.

I however am seriously wondering whether or not we should just ditch Terry and purchase Daisy - our very own Jersey Cow!