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

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Mum of the Year award?

You know it's nearly the end of the year when everywhere you turn there are countdowns on TV, in the papers and magazines reflecting the past year. Recently I have read various postings from Mum׳s of twins who feel parents of singletons really don't get what it's like to parent twins and it got me thinking who would be up for awards for Mum of the Year?

Would it be Mum's of only children, Mum's of twins or multiples, Mum's of sick children, Mum's of many children? What makes a good Mum and who would get an award?

Until I became a parent I had no idea what being a Mummy entailed other than knowing that I wanted to emulate the amazing upbringing and foundation in life that my dear Mum (z"l) gave me. I must have made countless "Best Mum of the year" cards, certificates, bracelets, mugs for her over the years and every one was true. I knew that I wanted to have lots of kids to teach, love, hug and bring into this fun but crazy world. Having one baby was tough. I spent a lot of my time in pyjamas and never really worked out why it took 2 hours to leave the house. By the time my twins came along I could get 4 children out of the house in record time.

For me this time of year is always very special as the 2nd January is my gorgeous girlies birthday and unbelievably they are about to be 3 years old. I still remember as if it was only yesterday being told in the Harley Street clinic that I was going to bring identical twins into the world. DH and I still sometimes say to each other "Can you believe we have twins?"

I look back fondly at the baby stage of their lives when they were able to gurgle cutely on a play-mat and if I left them for a moment they wouldn't move and certainly couldn't take a red felt tip pen and draw all over the playroom walls like they did today.

A and E come home from nursery every day like a whirlwind, a force to be reckoned with but they are also great company. There is rarely a dull moment when they are around. On Sunday we got home from a trip to the Dead Sea. It had been a great day and the girls had slept in the car all the way home. When I got them home I woke them up, carried them individually up the 26 steps to the front door of our house and tried to convince them it was dinner time.

Well 2 years olds are known for their ability to have tantrums and clearly my gift after taking them out for the day was to have a tantrum in stereo. They both screamed, lay on the floor, kicked and demanded that I hold them. Neither of them wanted DH it had to be me. So in the end I did my best to sit on the sofa with them both. Neither of them were impressed as they wanted both my knees and both my arms around them. Somehow we got through it. It took approximately 45 minutes (which gave DH time to make dinner) and eventually peace resumed in the house.

So does any of this constitute me being awarded Mum of the Year award? Sometimes I feel more like a police constable (telling them off), shepherdess (rounding them up), judge (deciding who really is to blame and doling out the appropriate punishment) as well as chief cook and bottle washer and laundry maid.

But really I think that all Mum's do an amazing job and I know if we were to ask our kids who they would vote for in a Mum of the Year contest we would all be chuffed at their response which reminds me I really should treasure (and keep ) all the cards and awards I get from my amazing kids.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Divide and conquer

I feel like I have been holding my breath all week but looking back now I can honestly say that they have survived and I can take a huge sigh of relief. I might add that they haven't just survived but they have positively blossomed.

After a tentative discussion last week that they would be moving onto separate tables, Sunday morning came, and DH and I both took A and E in to nursery. It is fair to say that we were both far more nervous than they were.

They were greeted as usual by extremely cheerful staff. We each took a child and deposited them with the correct teacher, gave them a hug and retreated towards the door. Nothing unusual about our departure, their heads were titled downwards, they were clutching their bunnies and dummies and we left.

Day one didn't quite go according to plan as Toddler A had an accident in the toilet and they called me to come and get her during sleep time. By the time I arrived toddler E was awake and so we all left!

By the second day E confidently showed me her new drawer and where she now kept her water bottle. By the third day I was enjoying pick up time more as I now had two very excited teachers competing to tell me details about their charge!

It feels great to actually be able to discuss them as the individuals that they are. The new teacher who has toddler E is always very animated to tell me that E is very very very happy. By Wednesday morning toddler A arrived in nursery to be greeted with a huge hug from a little boy.

E in turn seemed to have befriended a little girl who wears pink a lot who perhaps reminds her of her sister!

When I arrive to collect them each day it feels like the room lights up as A and E come running from different sides of the room to greet me.

They may sit at different tables but they still do lots of activities together and I think it's fair to say that they have coped and the change hasn't affected them too dramatically after all. Every day at home I do notice they like to hug each other and jump on each other seemingly more than they used to. Occasionally they claim they are going to have a sleepover together by which they mean in the same bed as the metre apart they sleep maybe a little bit too far. If these are the main changes then I say well done all round.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

We wanna be together!

To separate or not? This is the major question of the week in our family. Should we or shouldn't we split the girls up at nursery?

Ever since we discovered we were expecting twins we always said we would do our best to ensure they develop as individuals and not as a pair. Over the past couple of years we have heard all sorts of extreme stories of families who emblazoned their doorframe with signs such as "there is no one called twins in this house!" to watching a programme on the worlds most identical twins to see one pair of identical twin girls married to the same one man!

DH and I really want to allow A and E to grow and blossom as individuals but they are twins, they are the same age and obviously they do things together. So much so that I do refer to my kids as the big two and the little two.

So tomorrow is a major day in their lives. After two months of settling into an all Hebrew speaking nursery, being in the same group and sitting for meals on the same table, we have taken the enormous decision to split them up. The notion came from the nursery staff as they were concerned that they only play together and don't talk to any other children. Since they don't actually speak the same language as the other children we felt this was completely normal. After a few discussions together and with the nursery staff we have come to realise that although it may be tough for a few days it will be the right decision.

So following a meeting yesterday we have decided to split them up as from tomorrow. I feel a little trepidation for them both. I broached the subject with them this afternoon. Toddler A is going to be staying on the table with the teacher that she is used to and didn't seem to mind the fact that sister E would be moving. Toddler E thought it would be fine to move to the other table as long as sister A could come with her! We didn't dwell on the subject for too long and we will see how they feel this time tomorrow.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

It's a girl thing

Perhaps it's because there are two of them or perhaps it's just because they are girls, but I've been wondering how at the tender age of 2 and 3/4, A and E seem to already have such a large shoe collection!

They have sandals, crocs, more sandals, slippers, sensible shoes from England suitable for colder days and more sandals.

Before we left England for sunnier climes, I picked up two pairs of identical sandals on sale, as living in a hot country I presumed we could never have too many pairs. They are the same size and I never felt the need to identify them for a specific child. We also acquired two pairs of crocs in their size from two different families and so we now own 4 identical small purple crocs.

When we arrived in our new house there was no obvious place to keep shoes near the front door so I found a drawer in the playroom in which to keep A and E's footwear collection. On an average day I ask them to go and get their shoes and put them on ready for nursery. They don't see it as a major challenge and only once have they chosen to go to nursery wearing slippers and twice have I taken them out for the whole day to find A wearing two matching shoes, only what she didn't realise was that she was wearing two identical left shoes!

In my wisdom as a twin Mummy I decided that they would always have their own shoes which would be named inside and generally they do. They both have their own pair of fitted sandals - pink for A and purple for E. However E will only wear hers with socks since they once got covered in mud (although they are now as clean as new). A tends to chose a different option according to her mood of the day or to match the colour of her T-shirt or sometimes she favours the 2nd hand pair that used to belong to oldest daughter.

If you were to come past my house any morning at around 7.30 you are likely to hear me calling out to Dh, oldest daughter, or to boy in the middle to help me find any two shoes that will result in a pair. Just as lone socks frequently go missing, finding two matching shoes seems to be my daily challenge. There usually tends to be one hiding under the sofa, one in the bathroom and occasionally some are discovered in the shoe drawer.

The other day we were heading out to the park and as we were on our way I noticed E was wearing two right crocs and so I ran back to get a spare left one. I think people were counting my toddlers in the park and looking for a three legged child as i sat on the bench as they played in the sand with 5 shoes next to me. It was even stranger when A's sandals got covered in mud and she ended up coming home barefoot and I was carrying 3 spare shoes.

And so it was this morning that I took A and E to nursery. They had proudly dressed themselves entirely. I took a look at them as we were walking into the nursery building - one of them had her T-shirt on back to front, one had her shorts on inside out and they both had their sandals on the wrong feet!

Negligent mother? Or the independence of my gorgeous individual toddler girls?!

Friday, 28 September 2012

And so to pastures new...

It's the moment that I knew would come round quickly and as much as I had been craving this moment since AandE were born I was also dreading it.

Yes I'm talking about the need for the girls to gain their own independence, make friends of their own not just my friends' children and begin their educational career.

Since we have now moved to Israel I had two options. Either to send them to a private nursery in English or send them straight to nursery in Hebrew. I consulted friends, relatives, various nurseries and in the end went with the most cost effective option (huge consideration for two) as well as the option that would help them the most. So yes, I guess it was sink or swim, and we opted for full day-care in Hebrew.

Ideal for working parents they can go any time from 7am until 3.30pm. They have to be in by 8.30am for breakfast so AandE tend to arrive at 8am allowing me time to get to my Hebrew language course.

We are now one month in to their new regime and I can look back and honestly say it hasn't been that bad. Had we stayed in England I had all these marvellous ideas that they would not be going to nursery with a dummy, and their pink bunnies would certainly be staying at home. However, as I'm not a completely cruel Mummy there was no way I could expect them at age 2.5 to go off to nursery in a foreign language in completely new surroundings for a whole day including a sleep without the things they love most. So they are very much together with an assortment of dummies and bunnies and do you know what, they are thriving.

The language barrier has not been a problem. Their nursery leader is lovely. I know that they eat lunch, I know they have a sleep every afternoon and every so often they bring home lovely pieces of art for me to stick on the fridge.

Do they play with any other children? I have no idea. Are they happy? They seem to be. There are still a few stifled tears from both of them every morning but I know that's just for me and as soon as I leave they are completely fine.

How am I feeling now that I don't have to look after them 24/7? Liberated is a word that springs to mind. I do miss them but I also love that they have a packed day and I haven't had to entertain them. And of course the best part of daycare is that at
3.30 when I arrive to collect them I get two huge smiles and two little girls who almost knock me over every time with their hugs. Priceless.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A lot can happen in 3 months

I haven't had a chance to blog for 3 months but I do have some excellent reasons:

1. After deliberating the pros and cons of moving our family from England to Israel for the past number of years we decided to seize the moment and put plans into action in early June and moved country in mid August.

2. With A & E forever under my feet, any spare time was spent de-cluttering 12 years of junk from our home.

3. We had to rent out our house in the UK and find a property to rent in Israel.

4. Eldest daughter and boy in the middle spent a lot of time planning goodbye parties, photos with friends and special times with their special friends.

5. DH was working flat out on his own business venture and didn't have a moment to help me.

6. Once we had moved it took almost two weeks for us to achieve Internet connection not to mention all the other beurocracy we have had to deal with.

And now here we are, two weeks into the start of the school year and my family have moved on in leaps and bounds and we have all overcome some major challenges.

We packed up and stored most of the contents of our house in the UK.

Four days before we moved we threw a garden party for all of our kids friends and then an hour after the children left our friends arrived for a BBQ.

We packed 18 suitcases, 6 large hand luggage bags, 2 matching Peppa Pig backpacks and enough snacks that could have fed the entire plane load of passengers.

We said our final tearful goodbyes, boarded the plane, landed, were processed as new immigrants in Israel, spent a night in Jerusalem, received our Israeli ID cards at the Kotel and arrived in our new home.

Two weeks after arriving eldest daughter and boy in the middle started in their new school and A and E started in daycare for the first time ( but that needs a blog post all of its own).

Looking back it has been a whirlwind of excitement, fears, tears, new beginnings and for me the realisation of a dream I have had since I was 7 years old.

I am extraordinarily proud of my whole family and I hope this will be the start of a great new adventure for all.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Slides and Ladders

With a total washout half-term week I decided to treat my kids on their final day off school to the local attraction at Willows Farm.  Even when it rains the kids can have a great time in the giant soft play barn. I arranged to meet my friend and her three kids there and we hoped that it wouldn't be too busy as with sideways winds and torrential rain a hilltop farm isn't normally a top attraction.

Well needless to say we were wrong. The place was packed. Taking two toddlers to soft play is reasonably stressful at the best of times but yesterday took on a new level of challenges.

I found a small corner to park my double stroller. Once eldest daughter and boy in the middle knew where I was they ran off to throw themselves down the slides.  A&E pulled off their wellington boots and dived into the small and compact toddler area suitable for 2-4 year olds. They were happily running around and climbing and I even found that I managed to sit down for approximately three minutes before toddler E got confused as to how to go down the slide and toddler A noticed there was a larger world of soft play tunnels and slides to explore.

In a flash they were off and disappeared from my direct line of vision in different directions. Moving to a central spot where I could survey the mass of bridges, tunnels and slides I made a mental note in my head as to what they were wearing in case I lost either of them and then felt relief when I noticed A daringly cross the rope bridge and E happily watching bigger kids hurl themselves off the drop slide. All was going well until seconds later A was getting crushed on the bridge by a group of 4 year olds trying to step over her on the bridge and E was refusing to move out of anyone's way. I had no option but to rescue them both and persuade them it was lunchtime.

I secured them into highchairs so that my stress levels could be reduced at which point they both needed to go to the toilet!

We did have a fun packed day. Not long after lunch A climbed into the stroller, found her dummy and her bunny and went to sleep. I really tried my hardest to encourage E to copy her but instead she took the opportunity to have me to herself and persuaded me on to the slides again!

After four hours in the sweaty indoor soft play zone we managed to get outside in the drizzle, see the animals and other attractions before heading home. I successfully loaded my four wet and muddy children into the car, E was asleep before we left the carpark, and I drove home with four happy children and with a sense of achievement that I had kept my kids entertained all day and I hadn't lost any of them.

Friday, 1 June 2012

It's all about the bog!

Yes you did read the title of this blog post correctly.

It would be extremely remiss of me not to write a blog about the major accomplishment that A&E have achieved over the past month. They are now fully toilet trained, having completed their sticker charts and have received their own Baby Annabel dolls and it is fair to say that I have spent most of my waking hours (and indeed some sleeping hours) crouched on a toilet floor with a toddler desperately trying not to fall into the toilet, or to get any of her clothing wet.

Since A&E were born, I dreaded the thought of having to toilet train two toddlers. Would I do them both at the same time, would I do one first, then the second, would they both need to go at exactly the same time and would I ever leave my house again?

Well I thought toddler E was ready so I took the plunge and decided to start with her. I couldn't have been more wrong. In the space of a day toddler A was running to the toilet every 20 minutes proudly showing anyone that wanted to see her Hello Kitty knickers, and toddler E was traumatised and safely back in her nappies. Five days later toddler E clearly wanted to get stickers on her chart so rose to the challenge and succeeded.

Seemingly overnight I became smug mother of toilet trained twin girls but didn't really dare to leave the house. When we did go out I wondered how many extra changes of clothing to take with me and as soon as I went anywhere I searched for the proximity to the toilet. I am extremely aware of the preferred public toilets - the winning one being the toddler sized toilet in the fabulous building that I go to twice weekly for twins club and a playgroup.

I no longer have to spend hundreds of pounds on nappies but the amount of toilet paper I am getting through is huge. Only on one occasion when I was helping one of them on the toilet did the other proceed to go at exactly the same time - in her underwear. My downstairs toilet did start to smell like a public toilet but we have invested in some great floor cleaner and a lovely mango room spray.

Thankfully when we have been caught short A&E actually delight in being held out and enjoy weeing in the open! This backfired somewhat in the early toilet training days where they thought it was acceptable to wee in the garden because it was outdoors and then there was the one occasion where boy in the middle watched toddler A crouch down and do a number 2 in the grass. Lots of dog related references and explaining later and thankfully I don't think anyone will be using the garden as a toilet again!

Now that I have succeeded in toilet training I can look back on the last month and realise that it was extremely hard work but a clear indication that they are really growing up and becoming independent and fun little girls.  On the plus side I have had some great conversations with both girls when they are sitting on the toilet and the smiles that I get from them each time they go are just priceless.

I have now mentioned the word toilet far too many times for a bog posting so must sign off.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A date with a difference!

It's been a month since my last blog and things have been pretty hectic but we did it! 

Since A and E were born two and a quarter years ago I don't think dh and I have managed to spend much quality time together. On 30th March 2012 we spent 2 hours,13 minutes and 25 seconds together catching up, chatting and running 21.1 km around Tel Aviv. Not much of a date I know but quality time none the less.

The months of training in the pounding rain around the streets of Hertfordshire paid off and the cool temperatures at 7.30am with the sea breeze helping us along were much more enjoyable. The run itself went very well, the last 4km were a struggle and the following day I couldn't walk up or down stairs - luckily we treated ourselves to a night in a hotel afterwards so we really could try and relax - if it's possible to relax sleeping in the same room as our 4 children!

Looking back now I feel a massive sense of achievement. After A&E were born I felt the need to lose weight and get fit but I never imagined it would lead me to running a half marathon.

As a family we raised over £12,000 for a Magen David Adom rapid response bike in memory of my amazing Mum who would have been so chuffed, even though she used to tell me I was crazy to have taken up running - didn't I burn up enough calories running around after A&E?

I have given myself a well deserved break and actually haven't run since the big day. However as A&E were watching the London marathon runners on TV last week, they pointed at the runners and said "Look - Mummy running" - they are clearly very proud to have me as their Mum as I am of my Mum.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the "Team Running for Elaine", all those who sponsored us, helped us with training and physio, babysat the kids on the day of the race and attended the dedication of the bike. It is always extremely rewarding to do something so positive in response to such a sad event and this bike is now helping to save lives on the streets of Israel and for us it is keeping Mum's memory very much alive.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Lock all the doors - A&E are heading your way!

I don't feel that I'm a bad mother or all that negligent. It's true that I sometimes shout; it's true that I should probably find time to sit and read with eldest daughter and it's true that perhaps A or E would like a bit of time with me without always doing everything together, but life is busy and sometimes there just isn't enough  time.

Having said that I am feeling extremely guilty and a little shakey when I think of two things that happened to me in the last week. On Sunday the weather was great and everyone had enjoyed playing in the garden. At the end of the day dh was taking bikes back to the garage and I was getting dinner ready in the kitchen with A&E. The eldest two were bouncing on our trampoline in the garden. I was busy discussing with A&E what we were about to make as I turned to wash up my cheese grater in the sink. I was still talking to them but they didn't reply and when I turned round a few moments later they had disappeared. I assumed they had gone upstairs or into the garden to play on the trampoline again. I called their names but no reply came. I popped my head out of the back door but couldn't see them. I ran past the two eldest children on the trampoline but they said they hadn't noticed them. I hurtled down the side passageway of the house through the open gate and into my front driveway where I found them standing on the doorstep holding hands with our neighbour from across the street.

In a matter of about 40 seconds they had run through the garden, down the passage, across the drive and decided to cross the road. Thankfully we live on a reasonably quiet street and my neighbour knew they were our kids and when she realised they were out alone calmy brought them home to me.

It took me a while to get over the shock and now we ensure that the routes out of the garden are always firmly locked.

Thinking I had put this episode of adverture behind me I was shocked when a similar event happened again yesterday. The girls were heading upstairs for a bath. I was just finishing putting boy in the middle's dinner on the table and then twenty seconds after A&E left the room I followed them. I screamed in horror as I saw the front door was wide open. I ran out and saw a lady opposite with her dog staring into my drive. I saw one girl and screamed "Where's the other one". The lady pointed out she was right behind me. I scooped them up, told them off, came into the house and firmly locked the door.

My other kids never behaved like this. Perhaps it's safety in numbers that they think it's fine to leave the house provided they are together. As for me - I am locking all exits from now on and starting to feel that all those people who say "Double Trouble" to me may just be right!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

How far would you go for a friend?

Everyone should be lucky enough to have a wide enough circle of friends who will be there for you at different times in your life. There are those friends who will cook you a meal if you have had a bereavement; those who will come and hold your screaming newborn so you can have a rest; those who will drop everything and help you in an emergency and then there are those who go to extraordinary lengths to help you through a challenge in your life.

My mate Jonny deserves a medal as he has seen it as his personal goal to get me ready for running the Tel Aviv half marathon in 3 weeks time which I am doing to raise money in memory of my Mum. Come rain, snow or hail he has been there at 7am on Sunday mornings, banging on my front door, dragging me through the streets and encouraging me to keep up with him and run. He has advised me how far I should be running each week in training, insructed me to buy running gloves and a hat to get me through the winter, encouraged me that it's all for a great cause and entirely ignored the hatred that I felt for him in the early weeks. With no goal of his own in terms of a forthcoming run he has helped me purely for the fun of it.

It was by seeing him run the London marathon a few years ago that inspired me to run, and so a few months after the birth of A&E and with plenty of weight to lose I took up running with Jude (Jonny's wife). Under his instruction we built up speed and stamina and ran a 5k and 10k together.  As Jude had a hip injury and couldn't run anymore I felt inclined to stop too, but then Jonny took over and took me on as a challenge.

He complains that I moan too much, blow my nose too often and chat too much.
I complain that he runs too fast, spits too often and makes me go too far.

Having said all of this I know I owe so much to him. Last Sunday we ran 11 miles together - well almost together - and now I know that I will be able to achieve my goal.

11 miles - it's a really long way to go for a friend - thanks Jonny - you're a star!

If you would like to support my cause please see the fundraising page:

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tell me it gets easier?

Last week I had my online shopping delivered by a very nice man. He watched in fascination as A&E grabbed the yogurts from a crate, ripped off the lids, flung spoons out of the cutlery drawer and proceeded to eat them whilst dripping small amounts down their pyjamas.

He proudly told me he had eleven week old twins and then said:
"Tell me it gets easier?"
I looked at A&E having a fabulous time when they should have been heading off to bed and before I could reply he said "
Or just lie to me!"

The reason I haven't even had a chance to sit down and write a blog post over the last few weeks is because I never really have a writing window in my day. As much as I adore A&E my life has altered dramatically. One toddler is difficult enough to control and to persuade to stay away from the pan drawer/wasing machine/make up drawer - but two is virtually impossible.

E has taken a great liking to my dressing table and in particular the lip gloss. Whenever she gets the chance to grab one she insists on smearing it all over her neck. She is likely to be doing this at the same time that A has wandered into boy in the middle's room, climbed up on his bed, flung his match attax cards all over the bedroom floor and is working on colouring in his school reading book.

On Monday dh took the day off and we decided to go on a day out with friends. We met at the British Museum. Just getting there on public transport was an achievement in itself.  But it was as we arrived at the museum that I had a flashback of taking eldest daughter there with my Mum when boy in the middle was in his buggy and we decided it is not the most toddler friendly museum in London. And here we were with two of them.

It's fair to say that thanks to our friend the eldest two children had a great time in the museum. The youngest two enjoyed rolling on the marble floor, running as fast as they could in opposite directions to each other and leaving a trail of crisps and breadsticks throughout the African and Egyptian galleries.

Every morning I wake up and wonder what the day will have in store for me. How much spillage will there be around my house, dare I take A&E into the playground at the school run or will I never get them back in the car, or shall we just head off to a friends house so there will be less mess in mine?

So in order to answer the Tesco delivery man - does it get easier? Hell no, probably harder by the day but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Two turn 2

Our beautiful girls turned two last week. Normally you wonder where the time has gone but so much has happened in my life since these two girls came into our lives. For me, them turning 2 is a real milestone.

When I first told my Mum that I was expecting twins she declared that the first two years would be the hardest and then it would start to get easier. Well as she was right about most things I am hoping she was right about this too.

I normally write about how the girls have developed but they are just two cheeky two year olds. I on the other hand am one very busy mummy who laughs, shouts, smiles, tells stories, cooks,  learns, multi-tasks but most of all is completely smitten with my lot.

It's worth mentioning that in the past two years I have learned to:

Carry two increasingly heavy girls up the stairs at the same time

Talk on the phone, do playdoh and fold laundry - all at the same time

Easily find room to fit one girl on each knee for storytime

Change two nappies in record time

Have two dummies, two hats, two cups, two nappies, two lots of snacks in my bag at all times

Know when it's necessary to have two of a certain toy and when one can be shared

Really found meaning in the phrase - "Sharing is caring"

Amost tell them apart!

The power of two is very special. I am very honoured to be their Mummy and as all those random strangers like to say to me "ooh double trouble" - I say "double the love"!