Dinosaurs! And Magic

We enjoyed our recent visit to the Dinosaur Park.

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As well as the obvious Jake & Ellie really enjoyed playing with a baby dinosaur newly emerged from its egg. Ellie in particular: she had to be dragged away protesting as we left! There were also great tube-slides down dinosaurs’ necks which they spent a long time on.

I was quite interested in the sets of standing stones there & their history, but that will probably have to wait until our next visit.

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There were certainly plenty of dinosaurs!

This one is¬†Mammasaurus’ Mum, apparently

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There was a hidden lake! I was very impressed when Jake identified this as “a crocodile, or an alligator”. A big one!

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Watching over Wales?

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The watering-hole:

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There was also a recreation of a stone-age village there, including a preserved ‘real’ spring held to be sacred by the Druids. People had thrown coins into it & Jake was fascinated by it. I attempted to explain by saying that people believed that when they threw coins into the spring that something magic might happen. So of course I had to produce a coin for him to throw in! He was very excited.

At home that evening I was playing music from my iPod wirelessly from my little bluetooth speakers. Jake wanted to know how the music was coming out of the little box.

After toying with the idea of trying to explain bluetooth technology to a 3-year-old I resorted to the Daddy Pig solution: “It’s magic!”.

I can’t tell you how excited he was! Jumping around the room like a mad thing, he decided that he had made magic: that this was from his throwing the coin into the magic water!

He went to bed a very happy little boy ūüôā

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Car Wars

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click to enlarge

Parents of twins, or indeed of 2 or more children: do yours have ‘favourite fights’?

Ours do.

Sitting in “the driver’s seat” – the car seat behind the actual driver’s seat – is probably the main one right now.

“It’s my turn to sit in the driver’s seat!” “No, it’s my turn!” “My turn!” “No, mine!”. And so on.

I used to use the tactic of “Whoever’s first to the car gets to sit in the driver’s seat” when I picked them up from preschool. No more!¬†It may have got them moving but it almost always ended in tears, especially as they were usually¬†tired & due a nap.

Most of the time I can’t remember whose turn it is; I really need to get a system in place.

On Monday as we were heading off to soft-play it was the usual. Jake got there first, with Ellie complaining.

But then….!

Jake seemed to sit & think for a bit.

He then said something like “No, I think it is Ellie’s turn.” (Picking up a toy from the other seat) “Ellie was playing with this yesterday so she must have been in the other seat.”

He then gave the driver’s seat to Ellie.

Ellie was pleased.

I was flabberghasted.

And when I picked my jaw up from the ground I realised I’d found my system: thanks, m’boy!

For more Magic Moments just click here

I have good news & I have bad news

The Good News?

Jake just did what is probably his best drawing yet: an easily recognisable person, with limbs, a head & facial features.

And the Bad News?

It was on the wall.

And I didn’t even get a photo before we wiped it off!

At least I have some that he prepared earlier:

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It’s Casper the Friendly Ghost! And his /her ¬†Dad, I think.

 

Should we start calling them “Jakeisms”?

Sure, why not? There have a been a few recently.

We’ve already had the “Two Ronnies” style play on words, comedy¬†of sexual politics, & most recently the nappy ruse.

Well he’s at it again: still making us laugh. A lot.

Among the TV programmes Jake & Ellie enjoy is one by the makers of “Peppa Pig” called “Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom“. For those who are unfamiliar it’s about 2 groups of insect-sized people, Elves & Fairies, who are very different but who manage to get along despite their differences. The Fairies use magic for everything & anything; the Elves are very practical & can make or fix almost anything. Both of course are convinced that their way is the best.

The Elves seem especially proud of being who they are. Whenever an Elf announces that they can do something they’ll shout something like: “Elves are good at making things, & I’m an Elf!”, then produce a little horn & toot on it loudly.

Well, one afternoon Jake was trying to convince me to go upstairs & play with him, even ‘though we don’t usually do that until after dinner & before bed. I think maybe they’ve been a bit confused by it getting dark outside so early & before dinner.

This was the crux of his argument: “The boys should go upstairs, & I’m a boy!”. At which point he pretended to toot on an invisible horn. Then he frantically ran around looking for something, which we quickly realised was the toy trumpet. I found it & gave it to him, then he repeated his mantra & gave it a quick toot, in exact imitation of the Elves on “Ben & Holly”!

It made us laugh, a lot. And feel slightly awed by how easily he makes these sort of connections, turns them into jokes & uses them to reason with us.

I went upstairs with him. How could I not?

The Twins They Are A-Changin’

Whoever of us is looking after the twins during the week – usually me – takes them to an activity of some kind every day, & all of us try to go out as a family at least once on the weekend. We think it’s really important for their social development to be mixing with other children of all shapes, sizes & backgrounds & their parents & carers. They also learn & develop new abilities: for instance arts & crafts, signing, singing. It’s also just good to get out of the house sometimes, not just for them but probably also for us.

These pictures (taken in December) are from one such activity, called Tumble Tots. It focusses on teaching physical skills like climbing up & down ladders & ramps, rolling, jumping, throwing, stepping over & on obstacles. It also features action songs & dances, but they’ve figured out that if they don’t take part in that then they get the apparati to themselves, the little scamps…

Ellie peeping through her window
King Jake on his throne?

I think it’s their favourite activity, they’re always so enthusiastic. They run around excitedly, especially at the start, often making it difficult for me to keep up – although 1 of the staff usually helps out. They seem to like to push themselves, something they didn’t seem sure of 1 week they’ll be more confident with the next. And they like to claim & sit in their little perches, as you can see…

In preparing this post¬†I remembered I’d posted about these classes before. Looking back at that post from 8 months earlier ¬†it amazed me how much they’d changed & grown in the intervening time. Not just physically but emotionally. Here’s a picture from then, of Jake looking really scared about crawling up a ramp:¬†

I couldn’t help but contrast how physically & emotionally confident & at ease he seems now as compared to then. OK, 8 months is a fair old whack of their young lives, & probably translates as *ahem* quite a few years for someone like their old Daddy. But even so…

We see them day-to-day & share in their joys & sorrows, their triumphs & frustrations; it’s easy to lose track of how far they’ve come in such a short time. Sometimes you just have to take a step back & a look back to see how far they’ve really come.

From Whiskey to Whisking

Last Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday,¬†the last day before the voluntary privations of Lent. In Latin America they let rip: they let it all hang out in a mad orgy of exotic costumes, dancing-girls, music, dancing in the streets; the ‘Mardi Gras’, or ‘Fat Tuesday‘. Eat, drink & be merry: for tomorrow we diet!

Here, we make pancakes. ¬†And, with huge imagination, we call it ‘Pancake Day’. Rock’n’roll!

Actually I love pancakes. And as a Dad of increasingly active twin toddlers I’m pretty sure I don’t have the energy to jump around in the streets with beautiful, scantily clad Brazilian girls, and…

Oh, never mind: I’m not even convincing myself here! But I do like pancakes.

So at their church playgroup on Tuesday we made pancakes. The children put them together & the organisers cooked them, then we all ate them.

I was given the job of breaking an egg into the saucepan & amazingly I even managed it with reasonable competence. Then Ellie was given the responsibility of being Chief Egg-Whisker in Residence. I’m not sure why, as she’d never done anything like this before. The only things she’d stirred or whisked before were things which mostly do¬†not¬†belong in a pancake, & that for only as long as it took us to make her stop. The organisers, seasoned campaigners in the subtle arts of The Pancake Day Playgroup, must have seen in Ellie the secret sign of The Whisker of the Egg.

Either that or they noticed that her top already had yellow spots on it which act as a convenient mask for any spare bits of egg that may land there. Or that, being male, I was unlikely to notice any egg-stains anyway, or be too bothered if I did. And they would probably be right on all counts.

Well their eggy ESP seems to have been spot-on, as Ellie took to egg-whisking as if she’d been doing it all her young life! All we did was stick the whisk in her hand & away she went. She needed no help nor encouragement from anyone & whipped up an eggy pancake mix in no time.

I was astonished, as I often am with both her & her brother these days.

And she, along with Jake, continued her journey to Masterchef in a different playgroup the next day, which was my Silent Sunday post yesterday.

My little girl is growing up!

And the pancakes were delicious.

3BT: Love & affection, with ice

Yep, dual-posting today: from my 3BT blog

Yesterday while we were watching “In the Night Garden” on cbeebies Jake grabbed my hand & traced his finger over my palm. I didn’t realise it at first but he was copying the opening sequence where a parent draws circles on their baby’s palm to calm them ready for sleep. Gorgeous.

This morning he walked up to me & said “gabba gabba¬†Ellie”. I asked him to say it again, & he did, & I made out the word “like”. A 3rd time & I realised he was saying “I like Ellie”. When I let him know that I understood he smiled, said “yeah”, nodding, walked over to her & gave her a great big hug. I’m astonished at how socially aware, & affectionate, he is: not even 23 months yet!

In a slightly desperate move, given that they’d missed not only their nap but also their regular playgroup, & hadn’t had the attention from me that they would normally (it’s been one of ‘those’ days) I let them have a wander around outside in the icy, frozen tundra that at present passes for our garden. Jake especially was fascinated by how the water in the pond & elsewhere is now solid & frozen.

They were in amazingly good moods considering the day we’ve had, especially when the Mummy came home.

A Game of Two Halves?

In the wake of New Zealand’s magnificent & long-overdue World Cup victory I’m delighted to see that my twins are getting into rugby!

They’re both doing well with their communication: Ellie’s very good at saying words & she learns quickly, while Jake’s pronunciation isn’t as good but he is a better over-all communicator & is really good at signing.

So Ellie can say “rugby” pretty clearly, whereas Jake has a go but can sign not only “rugby” but also “rugby kit”.

Ellie can catch a rugby ball (albeit from a height of about an inch); Jake can’t yet but is very good at throwing it. So between them they make a pretty decent player!

They’re both pretty good at picking up the ball & running with it, usually with the other in pursuit. I must admit though I’m not used to rugby players finding it all so hilarious & laughing hysterically as they run!

The ball-carrier often ends up on the ground, with the other piling on top: proper little rugby players! Although I usually have to penalise them for not releasing the ball or not staying on their feet…

All in all Jake & Ellie have made this rugby-loving Daddy a very proud & happy man.

American Idiots!

More videos to come, I hope!

The Gallery: Expressions

Right from early on they’ve had lively, & quite distinct, personalities. In the early months about the only way they could express themselves was by crying. Now they seem to come up with a new way of expressing themselves nearly every day.

Waving & clapping

“Expressions” is the theme this week for Tara Cain’s Gallery over at Sticky Fingers.

A recurring theme of my recent posts is how quickly the twins seem to be growing up & developing. In the last 2 weeks they’ve both said their first words, taken their first steps, & walked for the first time. Today Ellie took 5 steps, & Jake 3. Jake also stood up from the floor with no support.

Right from early on they’ve had lively, & quite distinct, personalities. In the early months about the only way they could express themselves was by crying. Now they seem to come up with a new way of expressing themselves nearly every day.

Not only do they smile, laugh, frown,¬† pout, roar, growl, but they also wave &¬† clap¬† – as in the above photo. They’ll do so copying us, but also spontaneously: Ellie claps when she gets excited, but also in response to sound. If she hears applause or laughter from the radio or TV, she will also clap. When we or a toy ‘says’ “Hello” she’ll wave. She also dances in response to music: she’s already a lovely little mover, my “Tiny Dancer”.

They seem to have their mini version of the ‘Haka’, with chest-beating & thigh-slapping.

They are expert raspberry blowers;¬† they ‘wibble‘ & ‘puck’ with their lips. Jake especially has a great sense of humour, & laughs a lot. They both not only ‘get’ jokes, but also make them: with us, & with themselves.

They get more expressive every day, & I love it ūüôā¬†

There may be laughter, tears, tantrums, cheers, smiles, frowns, jumpings up & down: who knows? So why not head over to the Gallery to see more artists’ Expressions (click the pic.):