The Golden Girl

While the twins were at my place on Sunday Ellie decided to do her homework!

Its theme was ‘mythology’. She didn’t know what that meant so she asked me and I explained as best as I could.

King MidasShe then went onto google on my PC (under my supervision of course!) and came up with the story of King Midas. I showed her how to click on the link she wanted and before too long she had written 2 sides of an A4 page with the story of King Midas & his ‘golden touch’. It was in her own words too, and not just copied, showing that she had understood the story. I’m a proud Dad!

She needed some help with some of the pronunciation and spelling – I mean how the heck do you pronounce ‘Phrygia’ or ‘Dionyssus’ anyway? I don’t know! It’s all Greek to me!* –  but her comprehension and written account of the story was excellent

    * sorry, couldn’t resist

Yes, it does seems a little strange her choosing to do her homework during the limited time that she has with me. She does love spending time here with her Daddy – that’s what she tells me anyway – but I think I understand. We were still doing something together, which I was enjoying & I which I think she was too. She & Jake however often don’t enjoy the same things, and even when we do all do something together they more often than not compete with each other rather than play together cooperatively. I often find myself having to break up a fight. I imagine that’s not unusual for young boy-girl twins!

When they’re with me they each mostly just want to do something with me and so are competing for my attention. I only see them part of a day on a weekend and one evening after school so we all try to make the most of our time together. It isn’t easy!

Minecraft warriorAnd to be honest Jake and I were engrossed in a series of intense one-on-one Minecraft battles that day, which he’d been preparing and planning for and looking forward to for some time. I said to both of them before they left that next time I was going to spend much more time with Ellie to compensate.

So Ellie was being ‘a good girl’, and she is that, in doing her homework here – but she had also put some thought into her reasons for doing so, which actually makes me think even more highly of her. She explained it to me:

When she’s at ‘home’ (or as I prefer to call it “her other home”) with Mummy she likes to play on the green outside with nearby friends of around her own age. More often than not, she explained, she gets called in from playing to do her homework, which obviously doesn’t usually go down too well in Ellie land! She thought then she’d take advantage of my little home office set-up to do her homework at my place, and then she’d have more time to play with her friends.

Smart girl!

Oh, and my Minecraft battle with Jake? 2-2. We are planning a rematch!

Now there is of course only one way to end this post:

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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…

For more “Active Family” posts over at The Oliver’s Madhouse just click the pic:

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Let’s catch up!

The last month has been a bit of a strange one here, for me.

A month ago today we moved house, finally escaping from the little place that was only meant to be temporary but in which we ended up staying for over a year.

There’s the usual unpacking & organising, & we’ve only had the internet & ‘phone since Monday.

My routine has changed dramatically too in the last month. I’ve found myself not able to do much in the way of blogging, or tweeting, until late at night – by which time I really just want to watch a bit of telly & go to bed.

That’s a shame as, especially since term break, we’ve been having a very active &, overall, very happy time. In the last week we & the twins have enjoyed a great freeplay session at the children’s gym, a new softplay centre, the circus, the fun farm, a day at Folly Farm, the local holiday park & the beach, as well as their new playground.

Jake & Ellie seem to have changed a lot in the last month too: for the good, I hasten to add!

Every now & then 1 or both of them seems to take a big leap. Being twins they spur each other on too: when 1 sees the other doing something new they want to do it too!

Jake seems to have completely lost his fear of heights: nothing seems to faze him now! I’ve been amazed at what he takes on, & what he can do. The frightened one now is more likely to be me: “Jake, are you sure about that?!”

It’s a telling truth that he – and Ellie – can now do physical things that dear old Dad cannot…

I hope to get back into a habit of regular posting again, including about some of our recent exploits.

In the meantime here’s a lovely scene from ‘our’ new garden. It’s great to finally have the room to eat outside again – not to mention the weather for it!

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And yes: Jake shouldn’t be on the table, even for raspberries. In his defence I think he was pretending to be a baby – along with the obligatory “goo-goo” & “gah-gah” noises. That’s been a popular game around here recently for some reason!

School Runner

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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 😉

The Nappy Continuum

Jake’s reluctance to stop doing whatever he happens to be enjoying seems to be getting worse.

He’d needed to have his nappy changed for some time & had resisted all our efforts at doing so. If he was a Sim he would have had a huge cloud of green gas following him around wherever he went.

We knew it was a bad one as for some time he’d been walking around like John Wayne after a 24-hour horse-ride. Over shingle. Also at one point we’d caught him leaning against the door-frame doing his best Samson impersonation. Not to mention that when we said “Jake, have you done a poo?” he said “No, I doing it!”. Which is unusual, as usually he denies all knowledge.

The Mummy & Ellie had gone upstairs to get ready for bed; we told Jake that if he wanted to join them Mummy had to come downstairs to change him first. (The division of labour in our house for such things is generally that the Mummy does the nappies & I do the potties).

He finally decided he would go up – ‘Wild Columbia with Nigel Marven’ just wasn’t doing it for him I guess – so the Mummy was set to come down & do the business.

“No!”, he cried, “I want Daddy to change my nappy!”.

I’m always prepared to take one for the team, so reluctantly I agreed & shouted the good / bad (depending on your perspective) news upstairs.

But no! Then it was: “I want Ellie to change my nappy!”.  At which point of course I realised that this had just been a delaying tactic. Or a joke. Probably both.

What was that about being outsmarted by a 2-year-old?

This new development was again faithfully relayed upstairs. Mostly because I thought it was very funny.

The look of shock, surprise, confusion & horror on Ellie’s face was, I’m told, priceless. But, little trooper that she is, she straight away appeared at the top of the stairs to say: “I’ll be there in a minute! We’re watching Goldilocks”.

She would have had a go too; I just wouldn’t want to be there to see it. Or worse, to clean up afterwards.

I did get to enjoy the privilege of changing him after all, & yes: it was very messy & very smelly. And then Jake trotted off upstairs. Where they all enjoyed watching Goldilocks, probably. And I had to go out into the cold & the pouring rain, in the dark, trudging through the mud & long grass to the bin at the bottom of the garden carrying a very smelly nappy & its associated detritus.

Ah well, at least I still have Nigel…

Update: This morning I suggested to Jake that he change Ellie’s nappy; he was having none of it. And if I hear anyone say “typical man!” I shall be cross…

Update 2: Today we ended up watching most of 2 episodes of ‘Wild Colombia with Nigel Marven’ & we all really enjoyed it. The twins especially liked the bit where a snake bit our Nigel on the nose.

The Two Terrible Twos

OK: they’re 2. Plus 2 weeks.  And I think they know it.

Really, I haven’t explained the semi-mythical, mystical, iconic cultural significance of being 2: the Terrible Twos. But they seem to know about it.

It’s possibly that I’m just noticing more, but I could swear that they’re getting (more) rebellious. They seem to be deliberately doing things that they’re told /asked not to do just to see what happens. And enjoying it far too much. Dropping food or drinks on the floor, being rough with each other or us, grabbing each others’ toys, for instance. And with that look on their faces. Yes, I think most parents will know the one: mostly gleeful defiance.

And they’re smarter. They enjoy doing ‘circuit training’: running at high speed & with great excitement around something, a cot for instance. It used to be that if I wanted to catch one for dressing etc. I’d just have to ‘wait ’til they came around again’. Recently though while I was employing this hitherto successful tactic Jake stopped, saw that I was wanting to grab him for a very wet Jake-bath interface situation, & seemed to decide that running around some more was a far more productive use of his time.

He looked at me, turned around & ran in the opposite direction! I moved over to intercept. He did it again! And again! I think I only got him in the end because he took pity on me. He’s surprisingly quick.

Live & learn though. I now turn it into a game, by joining in the chase, pretending to be a monster, holding my hands in front of me & saying “Rarr” a lot. Not the ideal activity for the end of the day when you’re already tired, but hey-ho, it works. They find it so funny that they seem to want to be caught. At which point they get tickled or I pretend to lunge & miss, falling on the bed. Much hilarity ensues. Next time around I grab one & plop them, protesting wildly, into the bath. Rinse & repeat. And they most times have a great time in there anyway.

Except: pouring water on the floor, on each other’s heads – those are 2 more of their little rebellions, come to think of it.

Yep – they’re 2!


For The Crumby Mummy’s ‘Terrible Twosday’ blog hop. Click the pic for more!

The Things They Say & Do: Walking Bears & Wagging Fingers

Ellie has taken to’ bear-walking’. It’s something that babies do as they’re learning to walk: on all fours with the arms & legs raised, knees & elbows off the floor, bum in the air. Like a bear, funnily enough.

I think she may be having the toddler equivalent of a mid-life crisis. She’s just turned 2: she’s getting old! So she tries to go back to the ‘good old days’, when life was simpler. When she didn’t have to worry about which shoes to wear, or have to decide between ‘Peppa Pig‘, ‘Tree Fu Tom’, ‘In the Night Garden‘ or ‘Bubble Guppies‘.

So she was bear-walking around the lounge today, shouting “Bear-walking!”. And of course, Jake was meant to join in. So it became “C’mon! C’mon, Jake! Bear-walking!”. Quite a sight…

Jake this evening had grabbed the Mummy’s watch & had put it around his wrist. He then, looking straight at me, wagged his finger repeatedly in my face shouting “Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba!”. Me: “Are you being Mummy?”; him: “Yes!”,  with a big smile.

I found this somewhat funnier than the Mummy did when I told her later…

So that’s my mad household, why not have a look at others’ in Chris’ ‘Things They Say & Do’ blog hop at her ‘Thinly Spread’ blog.

You Had Me At “Agoo”

It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong; the best laid plans of Dads & Mums etc…

The idea of this blog was to look at pregnancy then childcare from a bloke’s perspective: to write about how my life changes as a result.

Great in theory, not so good in practice.

During her maternity leave my wife had plans to, among other things, help me grow all our own organic vege, raise chickens & write a novel.

I was also  hoping to maintain this blog – a bit more regularly than I’ve managed so far.

Hasn’t happened! As for the reason: see my last blog entry. We’ve been overwhelmed by the time & commitment we’ve needed to look after our twins, especially now that they’re having a few problems & need extra TLC.

In any spare time I’ve had I’ve been so drained that the best I’ve been able to do is type a few sometimes coherent tweets, usually with a baby or 2 on my arm (I have a very sore arm…), or slump in front of the TV occasionally.

But I’m making the effort: I’m doing another post if it kills me (or my arm drops off).

Well they’re now 9 weeks old. In the whirlwind of seeing to their needs it’s kind of crept up on us that in the very short time they’ve been here that they’ve already grown up, & are in many ways quite different from the tiny little things we were presented with at the hospital. I was looking back on  photos from around then & it really struck me. They were still our little Jake & our little Ellie, but they looked quite different. It’s not something you realise from day to day as you’re looking after them.

I may have presented a fairly negative picture, & it has been tough. Jake has colic / lactose intolerance*: he convulses in great discomfort regularly, especially after feeding, & often can’t sleep as it keeps him awake. Ellie gets reflux, she vomits her food up a lot (although she hasn’t for 4 days now!), & has to be held upright at least half an hour after feeding, as does Jake. If we lay her down too soon she brings the milk back up, & she cries.  In the last couple of days she’s cried inconsolably without apparent reason & has taken an hour or 2 to get to sleep. We’ve tried all sorts: elevating their beds, gripe water, infacol, gaviscon, colief, different types of anti-colic bottles. The only thing that seems to help at all with any regularity is body contact with us: being cuddled by Mum & Dad. It’s a mystery.

Note: click on any picture to view full-size

 

Even so, amidst the hard work & sadness they seem to be developing into lovely kids; we adore them, anyway. We’re told that everything they’re going through is pretty normal. Between bouts of illness, they have become  hugely more sociable. They were just little balls of crying, feeding, excreting & sleeping; now they are far more aware of their surroundings & of us. We can actually enjoy their company.

They’ll smile at the slightest things: being picked up, us making silly faces;  Jake especially loves having his face & head stroked.  They’ll often break out huge, open-mouthed smiles; especially after being in distress they light up the room, & our lives. They sometimes even laugh. They love us talking to them & try to imitate us, usually coming out with something like “agoo”.

Physically they’ve changed a lot too. They’ve grown, obviously. They’re the same ‘height’ (length?) as each other but Jake is now much heavier & stockier, & is already quite strong: for instance when he straightens his legs out he can push me back when I’m trying to feed him. In fact, he’s reached a milestone very early: he can already beat  his Dad at something! Put him on his stomach; if he decides he doesn’t want to be there he can lift himself up. That’s already more push-ups than I can manage right now with my dodgy shoulder. Ellie is more slender, long-limbed – but also has really big feet! Her eyelashes are incredible  – unbelievably long. She also has become much stronger: when changing her she’ll straighten her legs when we’re trying to get them into her sleepsuit, then thrash them around when we’re trying to do up the domes. Makes the job even more difficult: kids!

They are developing distinct personalities too. Ellie’s default expression is a smile. She loves being moved around & is fascinated by changes in ‘scenery’. She is more active, her gaze flits around a lot. Jake is a lot more serious. He tends to focus very intently on 1 thing at a time. The black beams contrasted against the white ceiling in our bedroom hold an endless fascination for him. We often joke that he is doing his Beam Report: keeping track of what they’re up to, what they want, etc. Oddly this has made him more, not less, sociable:  when we talk to him he gives us his absolute attention, & often stares at us intently even while we’re doing other things.

The main thing is that, despite their problems, they’re developing normally, & are happy a lot of the time. That’s all we can ask for, really.

 

 

 

Looking after them is extremely tiring, stressful, difficult. Despite all this, if I had to choose I wouldn’t change a thing. Sorry to be soppy, but I never dreamed I would love these 2 little guys so much, & expect to continue to do so.

 


UPDATED: My daughter can also now do more press-ups than me as well. And she threw up again this morning – twice.*sigh* Hopefully though that explains her recent evening crying.

* UPDATED: it was eventually diagnosed as Silent Reflux