Film Appreciation

Now where was I?

Oh, yes: ‘Frozen': Jake & Ellie’s first trip to the cinema! Last year.

Yes: bit of a gap; I know I wrote “tomorrow”. I’ve had a lot going on here lately…

As I said, they love films, & have done since very young. Early favourites were ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ & ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. More recently they’ve both loved ‘Tangled’ & Jake has fallen in love with ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’. And actually I may have as well!

We needn’t have worried about their ability to sit through the film without being noisy or running around: they loved it! Jake especially was rapt throughout, almost entranced.
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It’s almost enough to turn me vegetarian…

This one came while I was driving to a new soft-play place this morning & they were both sitting in the back of the car, chatting away.

Jake: “Ellie, I want to tell you something”

“OK”
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What happens when you give the ‘phone to a 3-year-old

Jake & Ellie both love their Nanny – my wife’s Mum – and enjoy talking to her on the ‘phone.

Jake – ever the joker – is quite brief these days: usually just a shouted “Hello, Goodbye!” before running off.

Ellie however likes to ‘chat’, although I only ever get to hear one side of the conversation.

Here’s a recent one:

“Hi!”

“Yeah”, smiling & nodding.

“Yeah”

“Yeah”

“Oh yeah!”

“Yeah”

“She has hair on her legs”

(At this point the Mummy turned a funny colour, made a strange noise & nearly said ‘a rude word’, muttering something like “you have to be so careful what you say…”)*

“Yeah”

“Yeah”

“OK!”, skipping off innocently.

It’s – as they say – good to talk!

Just maybe not so much in the hearing of young children…

* We think she was talking about a girl at pre-school, by the way

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Wot So Funee?

Trike-Racing at a Dinosaur Park (yes, really)

It was the end of the day after our visit to the Dinosaur Park on Sunday. We’d given in to double-nagging & had stopped off at the play area.

It was a trike racing track for 3- to 6-year-olds, a bit like MotoGP viewed through one of those extreme slow-motion cameras.

It was actually quite funny, in a cute sort of way.

Children were getting their vehicles stuck on the scenery, & on each other, & were having a lot of trouble trying to work out how to free themselves.

Then of course there’s the inevitable child who, for no apparent reason, is determined to go around the wrong way, causing chaos as they go.

Ours being at the lower end of the age-scale I had to intervene several times!

Ellie in particular really took to it & was zooming around (slowly) like a pro. Jake didn’t really get the hang of it: which is odd, as it’s the other way around with their trikes at home.

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Look at her go!

Jake ended up manning the petrol pumps, although he was a bit remiss at taking payment from his customers!

A  family with 2 children came in after us, with 1 child older than the other. Only the younger one went in as the older child was over the age limit.

He complained.

The Mummy explained.

“So what am I supposed to do? Just stand here?!” was the response.

“Yes. Welcome to my world.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself!

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Growing Up Fast: Let’s Get Physical!

Jake & Ellie used to go to a free-play session at a local children’s gym regularly, usually every week. They loved it.

Then they started this thing called “pre-school“; the gym session clashed with their school hours so we had to stop, planning to enrol them in a weekend class.

As you may have noticed it’s term break! They’ve been again a couple of times, the first time since June.

As with their going to the circus I’ve been surprised at their progress in the meantime: how much more than seem capable of, & how much less they seem afraid of!

Previously they enjoyed swinging on a trapeze: now they launch themselves onto it, grab the bar – & then swing! If it wasn’t for the sea of foam beneath it I’d be petrified!

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If I didn’t see it myself I don’t think I’d believe they could do it!

I think I may be having a hard time getting used to the idea that my little doe-eyed baby twins are no longer…well, doe-eyed babies.

Ellie can do it too but not as easily as Jake: he is the master here!

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Ellie’s probably more of a fan of the rings; she’s always been good on those.

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And I was really impressed with how much more confident & able she was on the rope (and Jake); it had scared her to swing from any sort of height before. Not now!

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“Me Tarzan, you Jake”?…

And, believe it or not. I get some exercise as well! There’s a big padded hollow roller that they love being pushed around in – and they’re getting heavy!

The good news is that with their new school hours when they start pre-school properly in September they’ll be able to go to the free-play session again, as well as the weekend class!

So… Brazil 2016?

Don’t worry: I’m not getting carried away here. I can wait until 2020…

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School Runner

Blade-Runner800600

I got 2 pre-schoolers walking the streets…I need ya, Dad. This is a bad one, the worst yet. I need the School Runner; I need your magic.

Not quite what Jake & Ellie’s pre-school teacher said to me. But it might have been.

And, to be fair, she hasn’t actually said anything like that to me at all. I just couldn’t resist appropriating a quote from one of my favourite films

- for I am now officially a School Runner!

Cue swelling spacey Vangelis synths while my spinner car swoops over city skyscrapers before descending onto the mean streets of suburban south Wales

In my head, anyway…

The reality is slightly different.

Jake & Ellie have been eased gradually into their new life as pre-schoolers: at first 2 afternoons a week, then 3, & now they’re up to the full 5.

To start with the Mummy & I were dropping them off & picking them up together; now we ‘take turns’. She likes to do it herself when she can, & she does. I can usually go with her on her days but we want them to get used to just 1 of us collecting them as she can’t go with me on my days.

They are really enjoying pre-school & are usually excited to be going. We just point them in the right direction & off they go; taking them there isn’t a problem.

Picking them up again afterwards, however…

I gaze with envy at the other parents walking along sedately, hand in hand with their little darling – or little darling & slightly bigger & more mature little darling – trotting along sweetly at their side.

I’m not sure what they think when they look at me. They’re probably too busy trying to avoid a flying Jake as he attempts to become the fastest 3-year-old on Earth. There’s a nasty chicane at the gate which is always trouble, then a long lane which is perfect for a little boy intent on doing his best Usain Bolt impression. The lane leads to a footpath then a busy road, & he hasn’t quite got it into his head yet that running onto roads is generally a bad idea.

There’s usually shouting.

Ellie on the other hand likes to dawdle. There are lots of little walls on the way & she sees it as her mission in life to walk on every one of them, very slowly, balancing with her arms in the air so she doesn’t fall off. Except she sometimes does. Some of the walls are in people’s gardens. “That belongs to someone else” is a sentence which just doesn’t seem to register in the world of a 3-year-old, or at least our 3-year-olds.

There’s usually shouting.

Of course I try to grab their hands on exit. They’re surprisingly quick, especially Jake, so that often doesn’t happen. Even if it does they’re also surprisingly strong & are experts at wriggling free.

We’ve tried wrist-straps, but that caused World War 3. They actually seemed genuinely hurt so we haven’t had the heart to try them again.

The one time I used the buggy, strapping them in, was during a freezing rainstorm where they seemed to accept my argument that we were doing it so I could get them to the car as quickly as possible. I’m not convinced it would work on a normal day, but that’s the plan for my next time.

I’d love to hear about the experiences of  other School Runners, especially other parents of twins. Is it smooth sailing getting them home or are yours little terrors like ours?

It seems to me to be a twin thing, but I could be wrong!

I don’t think there’s any real danger; it’s just stressful so I’d like it to be better! We always make it home more or less all in one piece, unless you count stress as an injury. Where, even if I don’t manage it, I feel like having a sleep – and when I do I hopefully won’t dream of electric sheep or unicorns ;)

Maybe I shouldn’t have sung them the Batman song so much when they were babies…

The Batman (TV series)

You know the one, from the great old TV series: “Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na BATMAN!”. Subbing in “JAKEY!” or “ELLIE!”, and zooming them up in the air with their name.They loved it.

Problem is, now they seem to think they’re Superpowered.

They can do anything, go anywhere! Batman had: “To the Batmobile!”; SuperJake & SuperEllie have: “I do it myself!”, or “I’m a big boy / girl!”.

So this morning, while we were trying to get them in the car, Ellie wants to scoot & play on the concrete in front of the house. It’s covered in ice. Mummy & Daddy: “Holy icicles, Ellie, NO! It’s too slippery, you’ll fall over!”.

Determined not to be beaten by Mr Freeze, she carries on.

Children dressed in Batman & Robin costumes, 1966

Children dressed in Batman & Robin costumes, 1966 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POW! SuperEllie slips, falls on her SuperBottom, & cries.

Another day we walked past a load of men & older boys playing football in an enclosure. ZOOM! SuperJake gets very excited & charges in full-speed, shouting “No! I’m a big boy!”, SuperLegs & SuperArms flailing, as I run in & pick him up before he gets SuperStampeded.

They are so different now than those cute, helpless little babies. They now walk, run, jump, climb & scoot. They count, & recognise letters & words. They make jokes, talk (back!) to us, & understand a lot of what we say, to them & to each other. Sentences like: “Shall we give them I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M?” – often followed by suspicious looks, & the odd “What, Mummy / Daddy?” – are commonplace here now. More on that later…

They can sing well, & make up their own songs. (My favourite is the Daddy song). Ellie’s ability to remember & repeat songs & phrases often surprises us; Jake is starting to do representational drawing – limbs, faces – & is a wiz with gadgets. More on that later…

And they have all of their own teeth, which is more than I can say!

As 2-year-olds they’re exploding with the joys of new-found abilities; it’s a fantastic period of growth & development. But their ability to recognise their own limitations seems to lag behind. They can do so much more now that they can feel like don’t have any.

It’s great being able to be a part of it, often exhausting trying to keep up.

To be fair, they are mature enough now to realise that there are actually some things they can’t yet do, & that maybe Mummy & Daddy might be right about some things. Sometimes.

Parenthood: what a ride…

To the JallieMobile!

Music Monday: Birthday

One of the things you lovely people out there in the blogosphere & the twitterverse may have noticed is that something I sometimes eloquently articulate upon bang on about with insightful  profundity monotonous regularity is music, my love of it, how I listen to it a lot, how my iPod Touch is now up to (just a sec…) 8,735 tracks so far, & how I should have been a singer in a rock’n’roll band. I even have a twitter account specifically for tweeting what I’m playing on my iPod, via YouTube. At least I don’t drunkenly tweet random lyrics late at night anymore as much as I used to…

So it makes sense for me to feature music in my blog. With the sad demise of Musodad’s blog I feel moved to blatantly take advantage try to pick up where he left off & do a post where I put up a few songs that have recently taken my fancy for one reason or another & write some words about them.

And… some may also have heard me mention that it’s Jallie’s 2nd Birthday today (yay!). So that gives me an obvious theme then for my first, & possibly last:

Warning: may contain traces of soppiness. I’ll try to add a little sarcasm & some bad jokes where appropriate.

Altered Images: Happy Birthday

An obvious place to start: it was either this or the Bjork-lead Sugarcubes’ “Birthday”. Altered Images’ lead singer was the scrumptious Clare Grogan: not only Gregory’s Girl, the object of Dave Lister‘s unrequited love (& the true Kochanski), but also the scourge of Craggy Island & Father Ted when she turned up there to tell him & the boys a thing or 2. So I’ll take her over Bjork any day! Also: Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” is a bit rubbish. And I don’t care if it’s about Martin Luther King.

U2: Two Hearts (Beat As One)

Say what you like about U2 & Bono, & most of us do, this is just a great rock song; from the pre-Joshua Tree “War” album. You know what I think of now when I hear this? Jake & Ellie inside their Mummy, entwined together, separate yet one, apart but together now & always, like two hearts that beat as one.

There ya go: soppiness, with rock’n’roll!

Steve Miller Band: The Joker

This was Jake’s early theme song. Yes, we give our children theme songs: doesn’t everyone? From a very early age he’s exhibited a terrific sense of humour, getting & making jokes long before we’d have thought a young child would. OK, some of the lyrics aren’t appropriate: if I find he’s a smoker or a midnight toker I may have to have words. And I don’t know what the “pompitous of love” is but I’m pretty sure I disapprove. But it’s a good song.

Elton John: Tiny Dancer

I adore this song: Elton John at his very best. It’s almost worth watching the film “Almost Famous”, about the ’70s music scene, just for the Tiny Dancer sequence. Shows the ’70s wasn’t just prog, punk & disco!

My Tiny Dancer, of course, is Ellie. This was my early theme song for her. She’s loved to dance virtually since she could stand, & has been much better at it than her Dad for at least that time. She’s always sung beautifully too.

I also used to jig her about to this, substituting in “Ellie!” & lifting her high up in the air at the appropriate moment. She loved it! Then she’d usually throw up all over me. Happy Days.

Bob Dylan: Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Jake’s current theme song: “Come on the juice, come on the cake: you’ll not see nothin’ like the mighty Jake”.  He has a great sense of humour; it’s sometimes a mystery where he gets it from…

Donovan: Mellow Yellow

Ellie’s current theme song: “They call her ‘Ellie-belly’ “…

I’m starting to think that the quality of the songs we choose for our children may be on the wane…

Beyoncé: Halo

From the ridiculous to…

Beyoncé: a bona-fide Superstar, supremely talented, ravishingly beautiful, jaw-droppingly sexy: you name it, she’s got it. And this song is just epic, beautiful & moving. Her music was playing in the operating theatre during their birth, & I’m pretty sure ‘Halo’ was playing as they were delivered into the world. I even gave it its own little post.

I can’t now listen to this already beautiful song without being profoundly moved. It’s Their Song. It always takes me back to those mad, magical moments when they came into the world & into our lives. They were so wanted for so long, & it took so many tears & trials before they finally became a part of us. When they did ‘it was like we’d been awakened': “Baby, I can see your halo: you know you’re my saving grace”.

Happy Birthday, Jake & Ellie. We love you.

I warned you that there might be soppiness! I can’t think of any sarcasm or bad jokes at this point, sorry. Maybe next week…


Current State of Play: The 2nd Half

OK, now that the boring ads are over, the band has finished playing, the cheerpersons have strutted their stuff & someone has sung very badly (sorry about that), & you’re settled down again with cups of tea / beers / absinthe etc. here now is Jallie’s State of Play: the 2nd Half!

Talking. Both say  “Daddy / Dadda” when happy & cry “Mummy / Mama” when in need of comforting. It’s not entirely clear if they know which of us is which. Jake says something like “ball”, by which he seems to mean “something I can throw”. Ellie seems to be able to say my name, & last night we think she may have said “good girl”  – the Mummy’s first words :). They both have quite a range of noises which can be easily interpreted: happy, annoyed, excited, determined etc.

Result: A score draw

Jake 5, Ellie 5

Playing. Jake doesn’t mean to be but he can be a bit rough, especially as he’s quite a bit bigger, heavier & stronger than Ellie. He pulls her hair, out of curiosity, & tries to nick whatever she’s playing with. They used to like to wrestle – until Jake ended up on top, Ellie got a bit squished & got scared. He will quite happily play on his own though; when he isn’t tired or hungry he can be quite independent.

Ellie has recently been getting her own back by pulling his hair too, & has been known to very stealthily nick his toys also. She badly needs company though & will cry when left alone. More of a thrillseeker than Jake: loves being thrown in the air & carried on my shoulders.

Result: Ellie by a hair, or two

Jake 5, Ellie 6

Affection. Jake actively seeks out hugs, holding his arms up, then wrapping them around your neck while he puts his head on your shoulder. He also tries to give big wet kisses, but they’re best avoided. Think Homer Simpson in close-up going in for the kill with Marge – with extra drool…

Ellie is wonderfully affectionate too, especially when she’s tired & nuzzles into your shoulder for a sleep. She’s only just started looking for cuddles though.

Result: A big wet kiss for Jake

Jake 6, Ellie 6

Sense of Humour. Even from a very early age Jake has had a fantastic sense of humour. He can find fun in almost anything. He can actually genuinely make me laugh, in a proper adult way & not just a “oh how cute, look at what the little baby is doing” way.

Ellie has in the last month or so really come on in finding fun, & laughing at & making  jokes.

Result: Almost from birth his theme song was “The Joker”: the gig is Jake’s

Jake 7, Ellie 6

Sociability. Both babies are very friendly, crawling up to other adults & being friendly. Jake usually exudes a studied curiosity, but Ellie always charms with her gorgeous smile.

Result: winning by a smile, Ellie.

Jake 7, Ellie 7

Well, it was always going to be a draw wasn’t it? You can’t have favouritism with twins!

Since I started writing this – probably just to make a monkey out of me, which they’re very good at – Ellie has started standing up with no support

 

Current State of Play, March 2011

Jallie had their first birthday on Saturday. I can hardly believe it; it seems like yesterday that they were just tiny, immobile, confused little things. And yet it seems like a lifetime ago.

So I thought it was about time for a joint report card, their current state of play. So here goes:

Teeth.  Jake 3 (& a bit), Ellie 4. Result: Ellie by a tooth (less a bit)

Jake 0, Ellie 1

Mobility. Jake: Can walk up to 20 steps at a time, but usually takes just a few before falling over. Can turn corners. Can stand up from the floor unaided. Very fast crawler.

Ellie: Walking for fun, can carry things around, can walk in circles & even run a few steps. Can only stand up by pulling herself up on something. Very good at squeezing into narrow spaces & crawling under things.

Result: Ellie might have to start further back but she’d win a race. Ellie by a head.

Jake 0, Ellie 2

Visuo-Spacial Skills. Jake: Very good at putting things into containers. Has learnt to      roll balls, & push as well as bash. Exceptional ball skills: can throw balls & other objects up, down & horizontally, even flip them.  Can even fool The Daddy with a ‘no-look’ pass. This is a great rugby skill that many adults never master. This makes Daddy very happy :D. Has developed a slight fixation with holes. Well, he is ‘Mini-Me‘, ahem…*

Ellie: Not really interested in any object or toy unless it can be chewed. Quite fond of chewing fingers that are attached to the The Mummy. Very good at sneaking, particularly at silently & slowly sliding pens out of my pocket while I’m lying on my back, while Jake distracts me by jumping onto my chest.

Result: A Grand Slam to Jake. A bonus point for style

Jake 2, Ellie 2

Music: Jake: Likes to DJ from the ‘Jive Bunny‘ & from ‘Thomas the Tank Engine‘ sound books for Ellie to dance to, then join in. Waves his arms in the air like he just don’t care.

Ellie: Has been a lovely little mover for months, tries to sing & loves being serenaded. My ‘Tiny Dancer’.

Result: Ellie hits the right notes. A bonus point for artistic impression.

Jake 2, Ellie 4

Sleeping. Jake was the first to sleep right through the night & is much more likely to do so. Snores very cutely.

Ellie: Has slept right through once, but usually wakes up at least once at night.

Result: A big cuddly Teddy Bear for Jake.

Jake 3, Ellie 4

Eating. Jake: Has a great appetite. Did I say something about ‘Mini-Me’? Has to be about to burst, asleep or offered Jelly before refusing food.  Favourite foods include: sweetcorn, peas, chick peas, banana, pears, & apple & cinnamon desert. Likes to be spoon-fed but also finger-feeds himself.

Ellie: She usually eats well but is already a fussy eater. A favourite food one day can be refused the next. Even if it gets in her mouth it will come straight back out if she doesn’t want it. Shares her brother’s annoying habit of eating corn kernels & peas 1 at a time. Likes to feed herself, but also eats from a spoon. Has recently started to feed herself with a spoon, although she holds it upside-down.

Result: A very big fat banana for Jake

Jake 4, Ellie 4

Well, this is exciting isn’t?! I hadn’t anticipated this post being so long, so let’s pause for these ‘messages from our sponsors'; the 2nd half will begin shortly…

*When I was little I was totally obsessed with “oles”. I’d crawl for miles to find them – a crack in a wall, a rubber band, anything – then excitedly stick my finger in them & repeatedly shout “ole!” to my parents. I’m sure they found it delightful. For the first hundred times. Feel free to interpret that however you like…