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

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

And they're both 4 now

It's been a long two weeks with a lot of anticipation for today, filled with discussions as to the fact that E is already 4 and therefore bigger and older than A. And so A was so excited that she finally got her own birthday party in nursery today. 

The good thing for me was all the errors I made two weeks ago I made sure not to repeat. For example I bought the correct packaged cake complete with edible party stickers to go on top of the chocolate goo - E just got a plain marble cake two weeks ago. A got Dora balloons for her bundle of birthday balloons today where as E just got plain coloured ones. But most importantly they had the same games and same parachute spinning activity and fun snack time filled with chocolate cereal and chocolate sandwiches! 

The nicest part of having split their parties in nursery, apart from the ongoing celebration, has been to see how genuinely excited the other one has been for her sister. Apart from A's meltdown just before E's party they have been very excited for their sister at both parties. Sibling rivalry between them is so different to how it is between eldest daughter and boy in the middle - they don't really get jealous of each other (unless they are both tired and both only want to be held by me but that's for another blog entirely).

So now we have two 4 year olds and it's not even their actual birthday until next Thursday.  I know I could have got away with just these two parties in nursery, but next Wednesday we are throwing them a small party at home, which lets face it, is as much for me as for them. I can't let a birthday go by without some arts and crafts with a few of their friends, and the challenge of making two identical but completely individual princess cakes.

The celebrations' continue....

Thursday, 12 December 2013

They are no longer the same age!

Thankfully E's party was a huge success whichever way we look at it

E had fun
A had fun
The two other birthday boys had fun
The food was great
The cake was great
The going home present was great
All the kids had fun
The nursery teacher took 60 photos of the party for us to see

The only difference now is that...

E firmly believes she is 4 and A is still 3 - how to explain that one to small kids and indeed to twins? Even though they know they are born on the same day, we have told them it's not actually their birthday yet but the fact remains that at this age once your friends have sung Happy Birthday and you have blown out your 4 candles (or 5 I should say as 1 more is added as luck for the coming year) then you are 4.

So I am in the bizarre position of having twins who aren't the same age any more.

E had a great time and the best thing is that now A is really excited for her party in 2 weeks time. She is busy deciding that she wants a different/better cake than the one I took in for A (it has to be a bought cake in a packet - how different can they be?) and different going home presents.

Here are some photos from yesterday's celebrations.

The party season continues....

Sunday, 8 December 2013

It's time to party

As A and E approach their 4th birthday the conversation turns to parties, cakes, presents and more parties and it seems like we are going to be celebrating this year for a very long time.  The first party of the season will actually be taking place this Wednesday, a full 3 weeks and a day prior to their birthday.

A and E are in a nursery with two school years in the same class of 30 something kids and according to the nursery teacher 20 of the kids have birthdays in December and January. Not wanting to have a party every day, the teacher has wisely divided the parties up so that there is one party every two weeks celebrating 4 children's birthdays each time. 

A couple of weeks ago the teacher asked me if A and E would like to share a party together or celebrate separately with other kids. What to answer? I wasn't sure, so I decided to ask the girls themselves what they would like to do. I explained the situation and made it very clear and they both declared that they would like to have their party separately from each other with different children. DH was initially rather saddened that they didn't want to celebrate together but I was rather pleased that they were beginning to show signs of a tiny bit of independence from each other.

So far so good and the conversation continued with parties, presents and cakes until last Friday when the teacher informed me that the first party would be this coming Wednesday and which of the girls wanted their party first? I looked at the girls and asked them who wanted their party on Wednesday. Without so much as a thought, E jumped up and down and declared that she wanted her party this week. A seemed to be in agreement that this would be ok and so it was decided.

The excitement continued and chatter turned to the first nursery party and E has spent the whole weekend telling everyone that her party is going to be on Wednesday to which A replies that her party is going to be on Tuesday - no in 2 weeks time I keep reminding her. 

All was going well until last night as I was putting the girls to bed and one of the other mums called to discuss who was going to bring the pizza, the cut up vegetables and the going home presents for the party. A and E were within ear-shot of the conversation. When I got off the phone I told the girls the names of the other children who are also celebrating this week. E was very happy and jumped up and down on her bed and that is when A's world fell apart. She sobbed, she screamed, she declared how unjust it all was that "it will be too long until my party." I explained how fun it will be to be the birthday sister but I'm not sure she heard me through the sobs as she eventually fell asleep.  This morning, tears forgotten, there was one mention of the party which everyone seemed happy about so I am hoping all will go according to plan.

We have made our decision for this year to have seperate parties in nursery and we will wait and see how it works. And once the nursery parties are over conversation will then turn to whether or not we will throw a small party for them at home.  No doubt there will be more conversation about cakes and presents but one thing is for sure - any party at home will be for both of them at the same time with the same food and the same friends!

Updates to follow.....

Sunday, 13 October 2013

They’re older now so surely the travelling is easier…

We flew to the UK in September for a two week family holiday.  Flying as a family of six doesn’t come cheap so we opted to go no frills and flew Jet2 to Manchester and back home on Easyjet.  It’s always a little daunting flying with 4 young kids but we packed our bags, left plenty of room for shopping in England and somehow made it to the airport almost on time.

Apart from a minor blip a couple of weeks earlier when we discovered that eldest daughter’s passport had expired and we had to get her a temporary document, there were no hold ups in the airport and we almost sat in our allocation of chosen seats.  All was going rather smoothly until 30 minutes before landing when that awful thought crossed my mind – how would we get off the plane at midnight our time, with 2 sleeping 3 year olds and 5 pieces of hand-luggage and a selection of sweaters and coats.
For me this is the absolute worst part of travelling and my blood begins to boil just at the total inconvenience of navigating airports with toddlers.  And true to form Manchester airport didn’t disappoint.  The Jet2 hostesses could help us manoeuvre ourselves only to the steps leading down to the tarmac and into the rain.  Through the door of the terminal building there was no one further to assist, just a security guard who was in charge of closing and locking the door.

Picture us – 2 adults holding one large sleeping toddler each plus a bag, eldest daughter pulling 2 wheelie suitcases and boy in the middle determined to help like a ‘man’ pulling the remaining 2 wheelie bags down the corridor. We could have managed this arrangement until we turned a corner and were greeted by a flight of steps.  My evening was getting better by the second!
We climbed the stairs, by this point we no longer had two sleeping toddlers but two crying toddlers, and at the top of the flight we headed down another narrow corridor. At the end of the corridor I saw a way out of this misery as I spotted 2 airport wheelchairs at the side.

I did hesitate for a small moment but as I couldn’t really walk any further I casually strolled over towards the chairs, checked no-one else around seemed to be coming to use them and I put A and E side by side rather unhappily in the chair. Finally DH could assist eldest daughter and boy in the middle with all the suitcases and I could push the girls through the airport.

We navigated two more escalators and each time retrieved the wheelchair and after a few minutes A and E stopped crying and began to enjoy their journey down the endless corridors. As we felt we must be nearing passport control we turned into a large hall and it was as if people were queuing for a ride in Disneyworld.  Up and down through the narrow weaving filing system bleary eyed tired passengers were shuffling with their luggage.  My heart sank at the thought of the 30 minute queue in front of us, until a jolly security guard in charge of the queue took one glance at us and shouted “Wheelchairs – that way”.  I immediately went ‘that way’ whilst DH started stumbling and questioning the idea and muttering nonsensical questions I quickly dragged him with us.  Straight to the front of the passport control queue within 5 minutes we were through to the other side and as we got to the luggage carousel we were reunited immediately with our stroller. We casually replaced the wheelchair with the stroller and pushed the wheelchair nonchalantly to the side.
As I explained to friends during our trip, it wasn’t so much that I stole a wheelchair, as relocated it through the airport.

Two weeks later as we flew home and we were waiting in a holding bay in Luton to board the Easyjet flight I was chatting to a sympathetic Easyjet crew member and relaying my story from Manchester airport. She proceeded to tell me how a tragedy had just occurred in Alicante when a baby had fallen onto the luggage carousel as the Mummy was trying to retrieve the stroller and died.  I have never understood why the airlines/baggage handlers/airports cannot provide the strollers on leaving the aircraft.  Why do they make you struggle with babies/toddlers through vast distances in airports when they could just make it much safer and more pleasant for everyone?
There is only one place that I have ever flown to where this happens and I was so happy to see my double stroller waiting for me at the exit of the plane as we landed back home in Israel. Well done Ben Gurion airport – finally an airport with a heart.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

The year's over!

A rather momentous occasion for A and E as they had their very first graduation from nursery. For me it has been an amazing year and DH and I feel so grateful to their two teachers who amongst many other things have taught them to speak Hebrew, integrated them into Israeli society and helped them to start becoming independent from each other. 

Last Friday morning was the end of year party which we were invited to. It started off with a story time featuring two live ducks, then there was snack time, painting bags, bouncy castles and ice lollies and it culminated with a party with songs by the singing lady who came once a week to nursery throughout the year.

At the very end each teacher gave out a gift to the children. They all received their own pillowcase with their photograph on it. 

A went up to get hers fist and was very excited, had the obligatory photo with her teacher and came back to show us what she had. DH and I looked at it and wondered.
E then was called up by her teacher to get her gift. The same routing of photograph and then we looked at both photos. 

We studied them for a few seconds and both agreed that without a doubt they had been given the wrong photo. We tried to switch them around but A lay on the floor screaming that it was hers. We gave her the photo of E back.

The teachers asked what was the matter. We admitted the error. One of the teachers agreed with us, the other one said no way and we were wrong. We weren't wrong. Sometimes it's hard to tell but we were fortunate with the photos and the clothes they were wearing we knew who was who. Now after a week they agree with us as to who is who and they have the correct pillowcase on their own bed.

So it's nice to know after a whole year with their teachers, 8 hours a day, that their individuality had shone through and they knew who was who!

Well now it's the summer holidays so they have a couple of weeks off before we start again in a new nursery with a new teacher to confuse for the year!!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The little Prince

The whole world was on tenterhooks to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appearing through the double doors from the Lindo Wing last night to present the world with the future Heir to the throne. It wasn't disappointing. Kate looked fabulous (just how we all wanted to look 24 hours after giving birth) and William has stepped up to his role of a new man and admitted to having already changed a nappy.

Today I have been thinking just how it was for me in those first few days and weeks after the birth of my 4 kids and wondering how Kate is getting along.

Will Kate have been allowed to lounge around all day in her pj's, sleeping when the baby sleeps and chatting to her friends on the phone giving them the intracacies of her birth story? Will her Mum be there to help her with laundry and cook and clean for her? Will friends pop in with food and gifts for the baby? Will Kate and William take it in turns to walk up and down the landing at night to get him to stop crying.  Will William ever be spotted strapping the baby into the car seat in the middle of the night and driving a few times round the block just to get the baby go to sleep? Will they ever have to call NHS Direct in the wonder of detecting an infection/virus via the phone? I wonder if when they choose a name and have to go to register the birth whether they will have to lug their baby up 3 flights of stairs to the register office (that was an interesting moment with twins!)

It's doubtful.

We do know that they have had visitors today - the Queen popped in for half an hour to see her great-grandson. Only half an hour?

Presumably they have a whole team of staff, maids, cooks, doctors, nurses in attendance and on call 24/7. So pretty much the same as it was for me then!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Count your blessings

I count mine every day - 1,2,3 and 4. Even when I shout at eldest daughter for the slovenly way she likes to keep her bedroom, or at boy in the middle for shouting or fighting with one of his sisters,  or get exasperated at A and E for flinging their toys and clothes in every direction possible, I still count my blessings and tell them all every day that I love them.

Life is hectic and now I'm a full time working Mum I have less time to spend with them on a daily basis. Each week I think how I must try and spend a little quality time with each of them, whether it's taking eldest daughter shopping, playing Yahtzee or Monopoly with boy in the middle and even harder trying to have some time individually with A and E.

Recently however I have thought more and more about a legal case that I first heard about through facebook a year or so ago when a friend randomly joined me to a group - "Help Beth get her boys back". I recall reading it rather nonchalantly about a case of twin boys being given sole custody to their father as their mother was deemed mentally unstable.  I didn't really read much into it but gradually over time as I have read the posts and seen the photos on facebook my heart goes out more and more to Beth.  She is a Mum to twin boys who's marriage ended and her ex-husband in Austria has managed to get a court order deaming her unstable and now he has sole custody of the boys. 

As I read the various articles and see the photos of the boys and hear that their language skills aren't developing so well because they are being looked after by carers who don't speak English, how one of them had to have their teeth removed due to decay from them being left with a bottle of milk or juice in their cot, my heart goes out to the boys and their Mum.

It seems clear to me that Beth is an intelligent woman, with no mental instability and is living through any mothers worst nightmare.

DH and I were discussing the case the other day. DH had to agree that whatever happens in a marriage and however bitter the seperation, how can a husband, a father and a judge allow the bond of a mothers love to be taken from these innocent chilren.

Beth must live for her weekly visits every Tuesday and every other Sunday and I can only imagine that throughout the week her heart is breaking for her two gorgeous boys.

I hope that she counts both her blessings every day and I pray that justice will be given to her and she will get her boys back very soon.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

You've got a friend in me!

I'm sure I've said it before in my blog postings but it has really dawned on me now how lucky A and E are. Like any other siblings they do have a tendency to fight occasionally or bite one another but I would say 90% of the time they are devoted best friends.

As we are dealing with our first summer in Israel and each of us taking it in turns to pick up bugs and germs it happened that A had a temperature last Thursday and stayed at home with DH. They dropped off E at nursery, came home and A settled down with a few helpings of Peppa Pig. After around 30 minutes she asked DH if they could go and collect E. DH explained it wasn't time yet and she had to play on her own.
A replied that she didn't know how to play on her own.

And that's when it dawned on me. Unlike other children who grow up learning to amuse themselves from time to time A and E are rarely on their own. At home they are together. At nursery they are in separate groups from each other but surrounded by lots of other children together. There is never a time for them to be alone.

A did get though the whole day without E but asked every half an hour if they could go to nursery and was relieved when she could finally go and collect her in the afternoon.

Then yesterday in a reversal of fate E had to stay at home with a very high temperature. I worked from home so I could look after her. Once she had enjoyed a quantity of Peppa Pig she too wandered over to me and asked if we could go and pick up A now. It was 09.30.

She also wasn't too keen on the idea of having to amuse herself but we managed to get through the day and she too asked every half an hour if we could collect A.

Reunited last night they played a very involved game of a birthday party which involved 14 chairs being put in a circle, with a doll, teddy or animal on each chair and an absolute fair division of role between themselves. They were totally in tune with each other, they both knew exactly what the other one was doing and they giggled their way through the pretend party.

To grow up along side your best friend must be amazing.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Thank goodness for fairies!

Some friends said to wait a while, some said it would be like weaning them off heroin, some said we should have done it sooner, A and E had talked about it for a couple of months and then the day came when E completely lost hers and we dreaded bedtime - yes I'm talking about dummies, pacifiers, ploppers or whatever other ridiculous names we give to them.

I had spent over 3 years saying several times a day "where are the dummies?" Bedtime would have been so much easier and quicker if we didn't have to spend hours hunting under the cots or beds, down the side of the sofa, turning out trouser pockets, or completely removing the very well fastened in car seats to retrieve them.

We hated them but they brought so much peace to our home that they were worth it. As A and E turned 3 we spoke more and more about the dummy fairy. She is pretty and has wings and she would take A and E's dummies and give them to the new babies. All well and good when it's a story but not as fun in practice.

I explained that the fairy could only take the dummies if they were put in the special pretty bag and box that we had bought for her. Again it sounds good, but there is no chance a 3 year old dependent on getting to sleep with her dummy can willingly put it in a box and not sneak it back out in order to get to sleep.

I could sense the day was getting nearer as we were down to the 2 final dummies in our house. Not only just 2 dummies left but both had cracks in them.  They used to toss them on the floor if they got cracks in as apparently they didn't "suck properly", but when they realised this was all that was available they put up with them.

And then one fateful Friday night arrived where E's dummy completely disappeared. We searched the house but it didn't appear and so we decided that the fairy would come. A thought she would join in and put her dummy in the little bag and box and left it by the front door.

Everyone was tired and everyone went to bed.

I was very excited as I had bought some lovely little gifts from the dummy fairy (she can't be expected to carry too much with her). I woke up early to put the little gifts in the 2 bags but then I discovered that A must have come downstairs and taken her dummy back. What to do?

I did the sensible thing any dummy fairy would do, I left the bag of goodies for clever E who had slept all night without a dummy.

Lots of excitement when E woke up and got her bag with little toys and a chocolate bar. A didn't get hers and showed me her dummy. There was only one thing for it. During the day I took her dummy and hid it.
On the Saturday night, magically the dummy fairy also came for her.

So the question asked by everyone, "how did it go? was it a nightmare?" and I can honestly say they have been great. They themselves had started to realise that they didn't need them and they have not once asked for them since the day the fairy came.

There are times now when they lie on the floor and have general toddler tantrums and scream for 30 minutes when in the past they would have sucked a dummy for comfort, now they have to scream and get over the tantrum themselves.

We walked into their nursery the other day and there are all new photos up on the wall of the kids. There is one of A very busy playing with a dummy in her mouth. She herself looked at the picture and said "Look I had a dummy, that was when I was a baby, I'm a big girl now".

Well said A - we are very proud of A and E and of course the brilliant dummy fairy!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

It's all change in our house

The six month honeymoon period of emigrating to a new country and spending our mornings in intensive Hebrew classes along with getting to know the country and making new friends has most definitely ended. It's not a bad thing. Change is often for the better.

Eldest daughter and Boy in the middle finished their Hebrew classes and found themselves in mainstream regular school suddenly having to learn all their subjects in Hebrew and chat to their friends in Hebrew.

A and E are now by far the most fluent in Hebrew. They are in daycare until 4pm so I decided that the time had come after 3 years of being a full time stay at home Mum to find employment. The downside of employment in Israel is that most jobs are full time. The part-time working Mum culture hasn't really made it's way here yet.

Hesitant at what I may find having been out of full time work for so long I searched for jobs in the Conference sector and unbelievably found work just 20 minutes away in a large conference company.

Full time hours are 08.30-17.00 which is a massive change for me but even greater for DH who now works a full time job from home and is in charge of all the school runs! A and E are very accepting that Daddy is in charge of making them supper every day and the agreement so far is that when I get home I am in charge of the kids and DH can go back to work in his basement office!

It's a major change for all of us but one that so far seems to be working. I say so far but I am now just starting my second week and the big two have just broken up for a 2.5 week vacation. A and E have just had a huge infection of headlice and A is recovering from a 30 hour vomiting bug which E seems to just be starting!

As I said it's all change. I'm off to work in the morning and Daddy daycare will very much be in charge.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Sync or swim!

I'm going to sound really old now but it's quite startling how our kids are completely au fait with technology.

Eldest daughter just turned 10 and we got her a very cheap monthly sim which she has in the Nokia handset that used to belong to my Mum. Before her birthday I set up the phone for her by clearing the handset and putting on a nice opening greeting for her. Concerned that she may have been hoping for some sort of smartphone, we were thrilled to see that she was over the moon to have got her own form of communication. Within minutes she had navigated through the handset, changed her ringtone, played the one available game of snake and nodded profusely when I explained she only has 60 texts a month and 60 minutes of talk time.

So far so good with the phone except she does tend to call Grandpa for a chat most days during break time and if I am 5 seconds late in arriving to collect her from a party, school or ballet she has called me!

Boy in the middle is probably going to turn out to be a computer whizz. He is happiest when he has an electronic gadget to play on or fiddle with. His favourite item is the DS but if that gets confiscated (fairly often) he can navigate the IPad, PC, Wii and recently I have found him reading a book with DH's iPod plugged into his ears so he can listen to Gangnam style!

Even A and E get to join in and it is clearly a sign of the times when during their imaginative play I hear them say, "I just need to send this email then I'll do it" or "I can't download that game as the memory is full" or the best is "We can do it later but first we have to Skype Grandma".

I can now leave them with my iPad (in it's protective case) and they can navigate Channel 5 and watch Peppa Pig together for hours! When my Dad comes round he brings his iPad with him and when I asked him to look after A and E for a few minutes last week while I went to collect the older two, I came home to find the girls sitting on one sofa face-timing my Dad across the room!

A and E are also keen to take my smart phone if they get the opportunity. Just last week E was playing a toddler memory game on my phone one morning. Suddenly I saw she wasn't playing the game but was in my text section. I grabbed the phone and discovered that she had managed to send a text to one of my Mum's friends inviting her to download "what's app" so they could keep in touch. It's important to add at this point that I am using the old sim card that used to belong to my Mum and I haven't deleted all of her contacts yet.

Not wanting to cause unnecessary harm and potential heart failure to my Mum's friend who may have got the fright of her life wondering how my Mum was managing to communicate from "the other side", I quickly sent a follow up message with an apology!

I guess I have realised that it won't be long before our kids use of technology overtakes ours and they will be showing us how to sync or swim!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Two become three!

I suppose it's only normal to take stock and observe one's surroundings on a birthday or anniversary and so I really couldn't let the 3rd Birthday pass without a blog posting.

They may be 3 years old now but even this evening DH declared "can you believe we have two of them"? I think it will be something we will wonder for the rest of our lives but we are also extremely thankful and proud to be part of the very special club of "twin parents".

So the burning question I get asked on an almost daily basis is "Isn't it easier now they are 3?"
Easier? I always wonder what people mean when they say this.

It's true that certain things have become easier. They are toilet trained and the nappy changing days are almost long forgotten. They are in nursery every day so I don't have to be creative for the entire 13 hours of the day that they are awake. They sit on normal chairs and eat normal food and play normal toddler role play games and dressing up. They chat continuously and are often very entertaining company.

(Now here's the but that you could sense was coming)

However, I still have to consider where to park the car in order to get them both out safely, I still have to consider whether I have the mental energy to take two 3 year olds shopping, and the tidying up of toys in the house has reached entirely new levels. They still wear a nappy/diaper at night, still drink milk from a sippy cup at night, still suck a pacifier/dummy whenever I am not looking, and love nothing more than working as a team to do something fun.

In the past few weeks they have drawn on the walls, kitchen table, bedside tables, pyjamas, jeans and our brand new bright orange beanbag, often in impossible to remove permanent pen. They have come up with some sort of wierd twin dance arrangement which they suddenly felt the need to perform at a friends house the other day. They play mummy and baby at any given opportunity and they always know who's turn it is to play which role. They may have some special twin words that they use but it's hard to tell if it's a mixture of Hebrew and English given their current daily environment in an all Hebrew speaking nursery and all English speaking home.

The main thing that I will say has got a lot easier though is the wonderful way in which they play together. For them it seems that life is one long permanent play date and unlike with eldest daughter and boy in the middle where I always had to play the part of the patient, shopkeeper, waiter, baby, mummy etc, I can now leave them to get on with their role play as a perfectly matched pair!

So as I wonder what the coming year holds in store for my beautiful girls I know there are some milestones we have to get through. They have to lose the dummies, they have to get dry at night and most importantly they have to carry on being best friends.

For me, I am in the enviable position of having two cute inquisitive 3 year olds to love and nurture and teach about the joys of life that surround us.

Happy Birthday A and E!