From the Mouths of Babes and Infants…

It was a difficult time, for all of us, when Ellie was so sick & in hospital with her nasty infected chickenpox.

The Mummy was talking to her about it, saying “It was really hard seeing you so sick in hospital, Ellie”

She straight-away replied: “But Mummy, remember the fun we had in the playroom there”.

Wow.

Such wisdom from a 4-year-old!

We can definitely learn a lot from even very young children 🙂

For more Magic Moments just click the pic:

Related: The Story Behind the Photo

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It’s Magic!

During term break we treated ourselves to a trip to Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire, a great place for a fun family day out.

One of the highlights when we go there, if it’s on, has been the Magic Show, & this was no exception!

Jake & Ellie are nothing if not enthusiastic. When Mr Magic Man calls for volunteers they always put their hands up & shout “Me! Me!” & are always disappointed when they’re not chosen.

So this time he again asked for a volunteer, & as usual they enthusiastically thrust their hands up into the air. He asked for ‘someone brave’ & I heard Ellie – and I think Jake too – shout “I’m brave! I’m brave!”.

He must have believed her: this time Ellie was chosen, & up on stage she went!

Continue reading “It’s Magic!”

Mars, Bringer of Tug-of-War

I was looking through some old videos last night & I came across this gem from May last year:

A room full of toys & they have the most fun with a pair of tights (not mine) left there accidentally – typical!

The music is actually Gustav Holst’s ‘Mars, Bringer of War’ from his Planets suite. Not Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ as I’d originally thought. Oops!

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

 

Flying Solo

On Thursday I looked after the twins for a full day on my own for the first time.

From 6.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., without a break.

The Mummy is still on Maternity Leave, but she wanted to go in to work to take part in interviewing for a senior post, someone she’d be working closely with. Obviously she wanted to have a say in who it would be.

I’ve worked in the high-stress, competitive environment that is the City, & in pressurised, busy restaurant kitchens. But this child-care is by far the most demanding job I’ve ever had!

So: parents & carers, especially you Mothers, take note: the next time someone (usually a smug bloke, right?) implies that you’ve got it easy & that you should try working in a ‘proper job’ (whatever that is) – just send them to me, OK?

Jallie decided to make it extra hard for me by, unusually, napping at different – & odd – times. I wonder if the disruption of the Mummy not being around at all had unsettled them, although generally they were in a good mood. Usually you can count on having at least a break in the afternoon & often also the morning as they nap. Not a bit of it for me!

Feeding them both at once (before their morning nap) was difficult. I somehow managed to get them on a knee each, wrapping an arm around them & holding a bottle in each mouth. (I wonder if we’ll eventually evolve an extra arm or 2? I sure could do with that!). I then managed to lower Jake into a cot, then Ellie into the other. She wasn’t happy, so I picked her up again & lay with her on a futon mattress we’ve laid on the bedroom floor. She fell asleep almost straight away. This is a girl who really needs company!

After making sure the room was safe I went back to Jake, who was grizzling. I tried to settle him on the spare bed but he just wasn’t interested. So he stayed up & we played. Ellie ended up sleeping for nearly 2 1/2 hours – incredible!

Lunch was late because of this, & they ate well. Jake! He was actually falling asleep in his high-chair! His poor little head kept falling onto the tray, messy as it was. He’s never done that before, nor has Ellie! So I had to unstrap him, leaving Ellie alone (which she loathes), take him back upstairs & settle him in a cot. He went down straight away, fortunately.

Back to Ellie to finish her lunch, then I even managed to clear up & load the dishwasher! Then into the lounge for some play (while I had the cricket on :)).

Jake however only slept for half an hour. When he awoke I had to give him the rest of his lunch. Because the kitchen/diner floor is slate & too hard for just-walking babies to fall on, if I was to feed Jake in there I’d have to strap Ellie back in the high-chair. Without more food, I’d give that about 2 minutes before grumpiness ensued. So that was out. I ended up carrying a high-chair into the lounge & feeding Jake there while Ellie played happily on the floor, with a snack so she didn’t feel too left out. Everyone wins!

No-one wanted an afternoon nap! Except me. I actually ended up napping on the nursery floor, while energetic twin babies climbed & jumped all over me. I had to lie on my side in order to avoid being choked & castrated…

Up until then I’d been thinking that despite everything it was going remarkably well, much easier than I expected! I just conked out. In hindsight I think I was starting to get this lurgee that’s been going around, a congesty sinnussy thing; I had a temperature the next day.

Tea is normally at 5pm. Ellie fell asleep on my shoulder at 4.30. Great…

She lasted 45 minutes, but it again meant that their meal was late, although – again – it went surprisingly well.

After tea we played until the Mummy came back at 6.30. Boy we we glad to see her, especially Jake! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so excited! He kept leaping on her, screeching with excitement, turning around, & then doing it again. Ellie of course was also really pleased, but in her typically gentler way 🙂

I had a brief, much welcome, break then we settled them to bed for the night – thankfully they both went down quickly.

We live in a tall, thin 3-storey house. The nursery, cots & changing table are at the top; kitchen/diner & lounge at the bottom. I lost count of the number of times I carried them, 1 at a time of course, up & down the stairs. I was shattered! My arms &  shoulders still ache. Although this lurgee I’m sure has a lot to do with that.

We’re planning to work part-time on alternate days come April, so I’ll have to get used to this. I really need to figure out ways to make it easier though.

I’m thinking Bungalows. Yep, a Bungalow would be a great. Anyone got one they want to sell?

Did My Baby Boy Just Say “Bugger”?!

I’ve been posting for a while now about how quickly Jallie are growing up & developing.

Part of that has been developing an independent will. I still remember being a bit shocked when I initiated a game with Jake, he looked at me, then turned around & crawled off as he wanted to do something else. That’s not supposed to happen: he’s my little baby boy!

It’s also meant that they can & do throw tantrums. Tantrums at 10/11 months? Oh yes! If I do something they’re not happy with, or stop them doing something they want to do, they sure let me know about it!

I sometimes think that this blog appears to paint too rosy a picture of life with our little darlings. This is mostly because I do love them to bits, & I’m delighted with how they’re growing & developing: mostly, everything’s good. Also, although I can do my fair share of whingeing – as anyone who’s followed me on twitter will know – I think of myself as a positive sort of bloke.* If I’m having problems I’m more likely to not talk about them, & just get on with trying to sort them out. And yes, I am aware that this is probably not a healthy, balanced approach. It is quite a male one, though.

When I’m ‘on’ the part of my day I most dislike comes after their morning nap: changing their nappies then dressing them. For reasons I can’t fathom, they hate it. It’s almost always a fight, a struggle, a wrestling match. They do everything in their power, twisting, turning, levering themselves up to stop it. You know when a protestor is dragged away by Police & plays dead, going as limp as possible? Yep: they can do that. They cry, they scream. Not always, but often.  It’s the same too when we dress them for bed. They seem to particularly hate being on their backs. And they’re surprisingly strong!

Trying to put trousers / tights onto a squirming, twisting, crawling baby can be a nightmare, made even worse with my dodgy fingers. We’re still trying to work it out. It may be the time of day; I had to dress them again this afternoon & they put up no fight at all!

So, this morning I eventually managed to get them changed & dressed, after the usual fight. Then I noticed that Jake’s trousers were on backwards!** “Bugger!”, I said in frustration.

Then I heard a little voice. What it said sounded suspiciously like “bugger”.

So,  my baby boy’s first words:

1) Daddy
2) ball
3) bugger?

Bugger.

Still: 2 out of 3 ain’t bad! Gotta be positive, right?

* 1 of the reasons for my new Posterous blog ‘3 Brilliant Things’, where every day I post 3 things that have been good about my day.

** As it happened I had Jake’s & Ellie’s trousers mixed up anyway. They’re twins but they’re quite different sizes..

Dear So & So: Violence, Legal Action & Security. Plus Some Nice Birdies

Dear So and So...

Dear Jallie babies

Thank you for respecting my request for a lessening of the bollocks-kicking activity. I think I’m on the mend now.

However when you wake up overnight & we’re good enough to let you sleep with us, please don’t wake me up at 5am with kung-fu kicks to my head.  Not hitting me while I’m trying to get you back to sleep would be nice too. And I know it’s with open palms, but it still kinda hurts.  (Yes, I’m looking at you, Jake…).

Love,

Bruised Daddy

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

NHS logo
Image via Wikipedia

Dear Good Hope Hospital

I think a rebranding exercise is in order, don’t you? You need a brand, an identity, that more accurately reflects who you are & what you have to offer the British public.

I suggest: “No Hope Hospital”.

Or how about “Bloody Hopeless”?

I even have a slogan worked out for you. Writ large over your front entrance: “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here”.

Otherwise  someone may sue you under the Trades Descriptions Act.

It won’t be me ‘though: I’m already busy suing you under every other Law I can think of, you nasty psychopath.

You are a disgrace. It’s places like you that give the NHS a bad name…*

Sore Daddy. But you may call me “The Plaintiff”

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chris Packham
Image via Wikipedia

Dear Chris Packham & the Autumnwatch team

Thank you for your earlier suggestions for bird-foods for this time of year. They’ve gone down very well here, especially those niger seeds.

Did you mention sunflower hearts too? Also mixes specifically for ground-feeding birds? They’re also very popular here.

There are a lot of happier & less hungry birds here now thanks to you, & to shops like Wilkinsons & Tesco who stock their food

Birdy Daddy

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Jallie

Sorry to bother you again.

Just an update on the security situation.

We’ve got some nice new door gates so we don’t keep having to keep all your doors shut, shutting out that nice shiny light that you like & making us all feel a bit claustrophobic. Or piling doorways with Pampers box bunkers  that would make a World War 1 soldier proud, or your old Moses basket full of toys. Especially as you eventually seem to be able to figure out how to get through them. You little monkeys!
We also now have bed-guards, so we can all co-sleep together instead of Mummy & Daddy having 1 of you each surrounded by, admittedly impressive,  pillow fortresses. If you rolled over onto a wooden floor you really wouldn’t be very happy, trust me! And neither would we.

Now, I know you don’t like being penned in; but it’s for your own safety, honestly. One day you’ll understand.

Also: I’m nearly finished converting the storage room into a big old play room: you’ll love it, believe me!

Love,

Safety-conscious Daddy

"We shall, we shall be FREE!!"

* I have to point out that whenever we’ve had problems or health concerns with Jallie they’ve been excellent. And the surgical team who delivered them were outstanding. So I guess they’re not all bad. My main problem is with its administration & the admin staff; they’re just abysmal.

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Viva La Difference: I Get Around

Back in November I did a ‘What’s Been Happening Over the Last 6 Months While I Haven’t Been Making Proper Posts’ post called “This Blog is Pointless“.  It was about how much the twins had changed in that time, with lots of pictures of course.

I said there “It just goes to show that babies, even twins, develop at very different rates & in different ways. In fact, that’s probably a subject for another post…”. And I always meant to do it, just haven’t had/made the opportunity.

Well, as I will probably have inscribed on my tombstone, “better late then never”. So this, dear reader, is that post.

For the first 3-4 months of their lives they couldn’t do much else but lie on their backs. In July, at about 4 months,  they started rolling onto their fronts. After that they gradually found themselves able to lie on their sides, then move around by rolling.

Then things changed. Around late October, at about 7 1/2 months, Ellie started sitting up by herself. Jake would stay sitting if plonked on his bum but couldn’t do it himself.

Then Ellie started crawling.

Then, on November 4th, she stood up. She managed to pull herself up in her cot to a standing position by leaning on the rail. I still remember how shocked I was.

Poor little Jake,  (I say ‘little’; he weighs a ton compared to Ellie),  was still lying on his belly, kicking his little legs, arms outstretched,  & rocking vigourously while hyperventilating. He then seemed to get a bit confused as to why he wasn’t moving! He seemed quite happy about it, & to be honest, it was really funny to watch – so none of us minded.

Well it works in the swimming pool doesn't it?!

Ellie then, quite frankly, just started showing off. She started trying to climb, bear-walking style:

If the Daddy won't move to Eleanor, Eleanor will move to the Daddy

Every time she spotted an open door she would zoom towards it with incredible acceleration, with a determination that would flatter an Olympic athlete:

Held back from the Abyss by the Hand of Mum

She could support herself with 1 hand while trying to take a step:

"Look, Ma - one hand!"

She even tried to climb into the TV (& it looks like rugby presenter Simon Lazenby has a new fan…):

"Don't go towards the light!"

This is how it was at the time: at a music / play group while Jake was rolling around noisily trying to nick other babies’ toys, Ellie was sitting quietly on a cushion, looking like ‘butter wouldn’t melt’. Then the leader turned off the music;  she straight away jumped up & crawled right across the room at top speed to yell at the tape player. I guess she was enjoying the music! Afterwards, by the way, just as the music stopped again Jake – right on cue – blew a huge raspberry. Not such a fan then, I guess.

Then, just before Christmas, Something Changed. Maybe Ellie went just that little bit too far with her Gangsta-stylee pants exposing taunt

"These young people! Why do they have to wear their trousers so low? How do they even walk?!"

Whatever it was Jake just suddenly seemed to get fed up with Ellie getting around so quickly & easily while he could only twist & roll. So he started to sit himself up:

See: The World's Youngest Strongman!

crawl:

"Oh no you don't - this toy's mine!"

And finally (“Anything you can do I can do better!”) pull himself up to a standing position:

Howdy neighbour!

It seems amazing to me that twin babies born only 2 minutes apart can develop at such different rates.

After being behind for so long Jake has now clearly pulled ahead. He’s now very good at opening doors that aren’t properly shut: which lead to The Great Escape. But that’s for another post & another time, I think 🙂

Title courtesy of The Beach Boys. And France

Dear So & So

Dear Dear So & So

Everything’s pretty good at the moment: sorry.

I know the general idea is to have a moan about things that bug you, but I’m pretty happy with life in general at the moment. Sorry to disappoint, especially as this my first “Dear So & So”

Give it time, I’ll sure I’ll have more to moan about soon. See you around 🙂

‘Annoyingly content’ me

Although, now that I think of it:

Dear Dear So & So

Everything’s pretty good at the moment: sorry.

I know the general idea is to have a moan about things that bug you, but I’m pretty happy with life in general at the moment. Sorry to disappoint, especially as this my first “Dear So & So”

Give it time, I’ll sure I’ll have  more to moan about soon. See you around 🙂

‘Annoyingly content’ me

———————————

Although, now that I think of it:

Dear Babies

When we put you down in a room could you please not immediately crawl towards anything that could cut / electrocute / bludgeon / choke  / etc. which we thought we had carefully hidden away from you

And please stop kicking me in the bollocks. We’ve talked about this. It hurts. Quite a lot.

Thank you

‘You’re so cute when you do it so I don’t mind really’ me

———————————-

Dear neighbours’ contractors

You know that big ditch you illegally dug on my property about 3 months ago, without my permission or even knowledge? It would be nice if you would come over & fill it in.

‘A bit miffed’ me

———————————

Dear B&Q delivery people

You know that curtain rail you clattered? It fell off & I can’t figure out how to put it back up.

Thanks a bunch

‘Starting to get a little bit annoyed’ me

——————————–

Dear Birmingham Council

It would be nice if you would collect our rubbish some time in the next decade. I currently have 9 bags out the front, many of them full of very dirty nappies, & there are 3 more on the way tomorrow.

‘Actually quite annoyed now’ me

———————————–

Dear Hospital

You know that shoulder op I’ve been trying to get? For about 2 years now? That has been postponed at least 3 times? That MUST be done this month? That you told me before Christmas that I was on the shortlist for? A phone call would be nice.

‘Really quite cross now’ me

————————————

Dear people nearby who are letting off fireworks

Can’t you do some of those ones that go “whoosh” & make pretty patterns in the sky? Instead of one after another that goes “BANG BANG BANG feckin BANG”?

You woke up my baby. Who then kicked me in the bollocks

‘REALLY FECKIN ANGRY!’ me

————————————

Smeg! I was in a good mood before I wrote this…

Dear So and So...

This Blog Is Pointless

OK: this blog is pointless.

It was meant to be about how the birth of my twin babies has changed my life.

And, how has it changed? In every way!

So I’ve sort of figured out that it’s not about me.

It’s about them.

And they have sure changed!

So, really the point of this blog has changed.

Part of the reason I haven’t posted for so long is that looking after them has been tough; hard work, tiring, stressful – for us both. It’s taken it’s toll on each of us individually & as a couple. The leisure time I’ve had I’ve mostly used to unwind.

Given all that, has it been worth it? A thousand times: “Yes!”. My kids are the most precious things to me; I realise it every time they greet me with a gorgeous smile when they see me first thing in the morning, when I make them laugh, when they fall asleep peacefully on my shoulder. They’re worth every hardship.

It’s been 6 months – yes, 6 of their 8 months – since my last post. In that time they’ve changed – a lot.

They’re Eating. Proper Food. That was then:

This is now:

They love avocado, banana, carrot sticks, baby biscuits, sweet potato, peaches, apples, yoghurt & much more. My wife is doing an amazing job of preparing most of their food herself, preferably using organic ingredients. They almost always prefer her food to even top brand shop products.

Ellie always tries to feed herself, & has to have something in her hand to chew/suck on;

Jake is quite happy to be fed.

Meal times can be great fun, but also very trying if they’re tired or grizzly. They’re not too young to throw a strop!

It was a major event when we first saw them reach & grip something of their accord. We used to joke about Jake’s daily battles with the Hippo in his bouncy chair. He’d stare at it for ages trying to figure out how to grab its evil frame. I still remember that day we saw him do it for the first time. Now they’re both very dextrous: Ellie with her food, & Jake has just recently developed a pincer grip: using his finger & thumb.

And boy, have they got strong! Changing their nappies or clothes sometimes feels like jumping into the ring with Hulk Hogan. Their grip, Jake’s especially, can be very painful when applied to ‘sensitive areas’. He got my nipple once – OUCH.

For what seems like so long this was their default position:

Then they started doing this:

Then this:

And this:

Then this: And this:

Then, written on my calendar for November 4th 2010: “She stood up today”. I’m still shocked. She does this now whenever she can from her cot, & always looks so pleased with herself, cooing contentedly! And Jake finds it hilarious when she eventually falls over…

(NTS: I really need to get my skates on to make the house safer for them)

Jake’s attempts at crawling so far mostly involve lying on his tummy, arms in front like he’s flying, legs in the air kicking like a frog & rocking vigourously while panting excitedly. He still seemingly can’t quite figure out why he hasn’t moved! He seems in no hurry – he seems to be enjoying himself – & neither am I, as watching him is hilarious! He can sit up, but doesn’t do it of his own volition. It just goes to show that babies, even twins, develop at very different rates & in different ways. In fact, that’s probably a subject for another post…

Needless to say they’re much bigger & heavier. It’s incredible to think they used to fit comfortably in a single little basket

Now they’ve outgrown not only their Moses baskets, but we’ve had to give them a cot each. Jake in particular is getting very heavy.

They’ve always had strong, individual personalities – even in the womb: That’s Ellie on top, pushing on Jake’s head to get into a better position. She seems the active, physical one, whereas he seems content to just Be: much as they have been since they emerged!

Now they’re like proper little people. They smile a lot,

they laugh a lot,

they’re  are much more aware of themselves,

of each other,

of other people,

& of the world  around them.

They definitely have bags of personality now!

I love making them laugh. Jake particularly has a fantastic sense of humour: he’ll laugh at almost anything. And when I make a joke that they don’t get they’re now both socially aware to realise that I’m trying to make with the funny, & will still humour me with a smile. Everywhere they go they seem to charm everyone they meet. They make us so proud.

And they try to talk. Jake is very fond of saying “Eh-oh” (trans: “Hello”)  Tellytubbies style.  And Ellie calls me “Dada”. My wife isn’t convinced; she thinks it’s just random easy syllables, or imitation. But when she looks up at me first thing in the morning & with a smile says “Dada” – I’m convinced. She’s also said “I like duck”, but that may be going too far for an 8-month-old.

We’ve been trying to teach them some basic baby signing words; apparently babies can pick them up very easily. Today, for the first time, they made a sign word: Fantastic! It was around lunchtime,  they were getting a bit grizzly, & Jake repeatedly made the sign for “Eat”. It turns out he was hungry. I couldn’t be a more proud Dad 😀

It’s amazing looking back over the last 6 months just how far they’ve come. I’m sure it’ll be just as amazing watching them grow & develop, & sharing in it, over the coming months & years.

And now here’s a nice picture of Ellie in her Grandpa’s cap 🙂

P.S.: I’ll try not to wait 6 months until my next post….