People who know us will know that we absolutely love dressing up for Halloween. You can see our family photos from previous years here (We love Halloween).
Here are our pictures for 2015. We went for a bit of an animated, super hero type of theme. I’m really pleased with how Sofia’s costume came together. It was a bit of a challenge to get good pictures this year. A combination of our camera having a bit of a moment (I think we got it stuck on some weird setting) and the challenge of getting 3 year olds to co-operate! They were quite determined not to wear the hats.
As it is also my birthday today we went out for dinner. Sofia was insistent that we go in our costumes. Rolando and I toned ours down a little bit to go out but the kids were still completely dressed up. Randomly Sam was determined not to take the hat off in the restaurant (even though it was really hot).
One thing I didn’t anticipate before having Sam and Leo is how much attention twins attract. They are well known in our village and people will often smile or say a word or two about them. We were once mobbed by cooing old ladies in our local bakery. This can be tricky when I’m running late to collect Sofia from school.
People can be unbelievably nice (I wrote here about The Kindness of Strangers) and have said some really lovely things to us. My favourites are people telling me that they are a twin, that they have twins or have twin grandchildren. I guess these are people who generally see twins in a positive light.
Then there are the really annoying comments………here’s a little round up of what not to say to parents of twins.
You’ve got your hands full!
This is top of the list of annoying things I hear pretty much daily. One it’s stating the obvious. Two it is often said in a smug you’ve got it harder than me kind of way. Three (and this is absolutely the worst) it is often said at moments when things are going a bit wrong. If one of your kids is having a tantrum or you are struggling to navigate a shop with loads of shopping and a double buggy what you don’t need is someone gleefully saying this. Unless it is followed up by let me help you, don’t say it!
Was it buy one get one free?
It’s not original. I’ve heard it a million times. It’s not funny anymore! Having three kids (I have an older daughter as well as twins) is incredibly expensive – there are no buy one get one frees. The food, formula, nappies and childcare costs are slowly bankrupting us.
I’d hate to have twins
This really upset me when I was pregnant with my twins. I took it really personally. I interpreted it as a person saying I wouldn’t like to have a family like yours. Now it just annoys the hell out of me! I guess people looking in from the outside only see the hard work and don’t necessarily think of the massive blessing that I’ve found twins to be.
I hear this pretty much every time I leave the house. Why are you saying my kids are trouble! I think with this one people just want to say something but is this really the best you can do? I will smile but inside I am groaning!
Did you have IVF?
I think IVF is an amazing thing and a subject that people may be or may not be comfortable to talk about. But think about it people – you are basically asking a total stranger to tell you about their fertility. This could be a really sensitive subject to bring up in the queue at Tesco. You wouldn’t ask a person in the street about any other personal aspect of their health. It’s not appropriate.
Phew rant over!
Are there any twin comments that you find a bit annoying? Let me know in the comments section below.
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This Wednesday’s wise words come from the legend that is Oprah Winfrey.
This quote really rings very true for me. Having 3 kids is wonderful and I would not change it for the world but man it can also be hard work. When things go wrong they often snowball (since I’ve started my blog I’ve documented two of such Epic bad days). The early days with new born twins were relentless. There was a horrific day when we all had a nasty vomiting bug.
There are times when being a working mum has been tough – the horrible days getting up at 6.00am to head to the office when I’ve been up all night with a poorly or teething little one.
But…….I try and dig deep. I try to find an extra bit of energy. I try to find a way to hold it all together. I might need to wipe away the tears, it might take tea and emergency chocolate, I might need to take a deep breath and hide in the bathroom for a moment. But the bad days are the moments when I’ve found some strength that I didn’t know that I had.
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One of the things I was worried about when I found out that we were having twins was how it would impact on Sofia my daughter. I think it is natural to be concerned about how a new sibling is going to impact on your first born and maybe more so when multiples are involved. Part of me was thinking is this going to ruin Sofia’s life.
Sofia was three when I found out I was pregnant with the twins and had just turned 4 when they were born. Sofia came to lots of hospital scans with me which made the experience real for her. This was more from necessity than planning. I had fortnightly scans and we didn’t always have childcare. 3 year olds aren’t officially allowed to sit in on development scans but they turned a blind eye (she is incredibly well behaved!)
I will never forget Sofia seeing her brothers for the first time in the hospital. She was a little bit in awe of these tiny little sleeping people. I will also never forget the look of shock on her face when they both cried at the same time.
The not so great bits………….
Sofia has seen some of the ugly moments of our early twin parent days – the boys screaming when they needed feeding at the same time. Me manically rocking one in a bouncy chair with one foot while feeding the other. The double tantrums. The thrown food. The moments of mum melt down. We used to call the end of the day 4 o’clock crazy time as this is when things generally got a bit messy. It took Sofia a really long time to figure out who was who. She used to say things like “Mummy the stripy one is crying”.
Things that helped her………
Some dedicated time
Rolando used to come home from work early every Friday so I could pick Sofia up from school and take her to our local cafe for precious mummy daughter time. We’d read her phonics books from school, eat cake and have a bit of time out. I needed this just as much as she did. I practically ran out of the door the second Rolando got home.
Making the most of the time when the boys were sleeping
Nap time was totally prime time to do stuff together – baking, craft, sewing, games with little pieces (normally classed as chocking hazards), watching Disney films and dressing up. From quite early in the day Sofia used to ask me is it nap time yet.
Sticking with family traditions (even though it nearly killed me)
Instead of doing an advent calendar we always do advent activities, one little Christmassy thing each day. I stuck to this even when the boys were just a few months old. At times it was really difficult to fit it in, decorating a gingerbread house while all hell broke loose around us, but it kind of made it more special.
Not forcing her to love her brothers straight away or 100% of the time
I let Sofia get to know her brothers in her own time and didn’t ever push her to be totally happy about them being there all the time. It used to drive me crazy when strangers would ask her how much she loved her brothers. I knew it would come in time and didn’t need to be rushed.
Letting her talk
I gave Sofia the space to talk about being a bit annoyed at times and not forcing her to squash down any negatives she was feeling about the situation. I think letting her get it off her mind kind of dissipated the occasional negative feelings rather than making a big deal of them.
Keeping her stuff safe from little wreckers
We put a high table in the living room where she could put her stuff out of harms way. A few things did still get broken but it did teach her not to leave stuff lying around.
Letting her have a safe haven
We made her room a baby free zone so at least she had somewhere to escape from the noise and the busyness.
Stopping her getting overlooked
The boys attract a lot of attention when we are out and about (I have heard every question about twins 1000 times). I tried to get her involved in the conversation by letting her say who was who (even if I had to whisper it to her).
Let her help when she wanted to
I let Sofia do little things to help the boys but only when she wanted to. We used to bath them together and she has spoon fed both of them when they were weaning. She now helps them take their coats off when they get home.
Trying to stop her missing out
I have really tried to make sure she didn’t miss out too much sometimes to the point of craziness. We went to a soft play party when I was pregnant and I went on the equipment with her when she was nervous to do it on her own. I remember taking the boys to quite a few birthday parties when they were tiny, sometimes I would be sitting there delirious and sleep deprived. On one occasion pushing them through the sleet to our village hall so that she got to someone’s birthday celebration (while praying the twins were okay out in the cold).
Daddy and daughter days
Rolando has planned some one on one time with Sofia too. He took her to his workshop to make a bird house, took her to a firework display and to the cinema (even though he won’t admit to crying while watching Inside Out).
Where we are now…….
I can see now that having twin brothers didn’t ruin Sofia’s life. It gave her two extra people that she loves and who love her through the daily scraps and squabbles of sibling life.
Then there are the golden moments when the kids come together as a little gang – jumping on our bed, giggling over a little shared joke, snuggled up under the duvet together. Sofia was so excited when the boys reached their milestones. The moment that they learnt her name was magic. The boys returned the favour cheer her on at sports day. The boys look up to their big sister, following her around and trying to keep up with her, even if she is trying to escape from them on her scooter. Sofia taking their hand and keeping them safe and feeling really proud of herself for being the grown up protector. The shared cuddles. Knowing they are going to be together for the whole of their lives.
I have been nominated by my blogging buddy Laura to do this post. Laura has a beautiful and varied blog called Laura’s Lovely Things. You can find her 10 loves and hates here and this is her home page.
10 things I hate
Passwords drive me completely crazy! I am terrible at remembering passwords, usernames security codes and memorable questions and all of this marlarky. My life demands that I know about 1000 of these.
Litter really annoys me. There is way too much of it everywhere and it is totally unnecessary. It is just pure laziness and lack of care for your surroundings. There is a grass area in front of my house and I sometimes snap and go and clean it up myself.
I have a bit of an intolerance to certain types of noise. Things that are louder than they need to be – the TV on too loud, music playing loudly, people talking too loud, people banging around, clanking cutlery, two types of music playing over each other, yappy toys. All of it jangles my nerves.
I don’t iron anything. I’m rubbish at doing it and barely have time to keep on top of the crazy amounts of washing my tribe generate. I only bust out the ironing board for a wedding or a job interview.
Everyone needs a rant every so often. It is necessary and therapeutic. What I can’t stand is people who do nothing but complain. I’m sure you know someone like this who’s default topic of conversation is to point out everything that is wrong – not in an attempt to find a solution but just to fill time. They drain the life out of me!
The clocks going back
This is not so much missing out on the extra hour in bed – my kids don’t care. I just don’t really understand the point of daylight saving time. I’d rather it got lighter later and was a tiny bit lighter at the end of the day. I hate picking up my daughter up from after school activities in the dark especially when it means walking with toddlers along busy streets it feels really dangerous (note to self buy reflective stickers for their coats!).
I think I am quite a tolerant person – I don’t hate people because they are different to me (foreigners, gay people, people of different religions or ethnicities). However there are so many loud intolerant voices forcing their bigoted views on me these days. There are certain news papers that I avoid like the plague because they paint a very unrepresentative picture of immigrants – scapegoating foreigners as the source of all problems. My husband is from South America and he does not in any way match up to the scrounging, criminal stereotype foreigner image that some people would have you believe in (here’s a post about the positives of being a mixed race family). I could actually write an essay on this one!
A little left field but bathmats really annoy me because no mater what I do (leaving them in the bath of hanging them up to dry) they always go mouldy and need throwing out – disgusting! Plus I have twins who I bath together so I need to buy extra long ones which are tricky to find.
I can’t even stand the smell of cucumber – it makes me want to wretch. I totally hate it.
February is my least favourite month of the year by far. The excitement of Christmas and new year are over. I always feel like the winter is really dragging on and I’m fed up of the cold and dark. I enjoy valentines day but not the other 27/28 depressing February days. Also in my husband’s home country it is carnival season so he gets really homesick and grumpy.
10 things I love
I love my husband and my children more than anything else in the world – here are 10 other things that I totally love.
I’ve always been creative and I completely love making things. I like to sew even though my skills are a bit limited. I love baking and doing crafts by myself and with the kids (here’s a little post about baking with toddlers). I make decorations for the house especially at Christmas. I really want to learn how to do screen printing next.
I totally love relaxing in a nice cafe. It’s great to sit for ages on my own with a coffee and a good book or to catch up on the papers. I also love taking my kids for cakes or having a catch up with a friend over coffee.
I got this for Christmas last year and absolutely love it. I have read so much more since getting this. I have it in my bag all the time so if I’m stuck in a queue I have a little read. I can see a book I like and download it straight away plus have a couple of books on the go at the same time.
I think a lot of people will agree that bacon sandwiches are amazing. I love the smell of the bacon cooking, especially for breakfast (even with a hangover!)
I love travelling and have been to lots of amazing countries and live in Ecuador. One place that stands out if Cuba. It is beautiful with amazing beaches and impressive buildings (some of them restored and some crumbling). The people were very welcoming. The country is completely fascinating and unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. The highlight of our trip was finding a little backstreet salsa club and seeing the locals dancing (and joining in too).
I love going to Ikea! I like to go on my own as I love to take ages and look at absolutely everything. My favourite things are the small items and I love all of the Ikea hacks that you see on Pinterest. I took a day off work recently and went there for a whole day, it was like a holiday for me. Plus I love the meatballs!
I love a trip to a zoo or a safari park. I am just as excited as the kids see all of the animals. I especially like the modern ones that let you feed the animals and have them running free in areas that you can walk through. My two favourites are the South Lakes zoo (where we fed penguins and giraffes) and Woburn safari park (where monkeys jumped on our car).
I love people who get over excited and enthusiastic about things like I have a tendency to do. This is why I love hanging out with my kids as they get really excited about things. I get a bit bored and frustrated with people who play it cool and are cynical (they probably can’t stand me either!)
I have been lucky enough to see some amazing West End shows like Les Miserable, Chicago and Phantom of the Opera. I haven’t been to a musical for years but I’m planning to start taking Sofia now that she is a bit older and she can be my musicals buddy – I’m thinking Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might be a good one to start with.
Colourful things just really cheer me up. One of the reasons I hate winter is the greyness. I wear coloured shoes a lot and have a bright red handbag. Sofia has a bright pink winter coat that makes me smile. My house has quite a lot of colour too either colourful walls (like my bright yellow kitchen ones) or colourful accessories.
I’ve really enjoyed doing this post. It was hard to narrow down the list of things I love to just 10 and good to have a rant about things that annoy me.
I would like to tag the following people to post about their 10 loves and hates – if you’d like to and you haven’t done this already:
Even if I haven’t tagged feel free to join in – if you let me know on Twitter or Facebook I’ll pop over for a little look.
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I decided to try out a little feature sharing my favourite quotes with you and where better to start than the fantastic Roald Dahl. This quote is taken from The Minpins which is one of the less well known Dahl books.
We stumbled across a copy at a jumble sale and we snapped it up (for 20p) and I’m so glad I did as it is such a great story with beautiful intricate illustrations.
I really love the way that my kids look at the world with wonder – my three year olds are amazed by ladybirds and clouds. I remember Sam’s face lighting up the first time her tasted chocolate.
My daughter is obsessed with everything magical (if you want a glimpse into her magic brain check out here idea of how a bank should work).
Try it out today – open your glittering eyes and you will find a little bit of ever day magic.
Do you have a favourite quote? What are your words to live by?
My 7 year old daughter has a very vivid imagination which often takes us on fabulous wanders down bizarre trains of thought. Chatting to her yesterday she came up with the following design for a bank. There are a few details still to be worked out but I think she could be onto something.
The banking system is based on kindness. If a person who has been kind to other goes to the bank they can get up to £100. If a nasty person goes to the bank the most that they can withdraw is 1p.
The bank is staffed by money fairies (we’d have to figure this bit out). The money is kept in boxes guarded by lots of dogs (kind of canine based regulation).
I wanted to know what the system was for checking if a person has been kind or nasty. This was my daughter’s idea. You have lots of owls who fly everywhere at night checking on what people are up to.
I asked her how we would figured out if people were being kind during the daytime. She decided there could be a unicorn who made magic dust with his horn. This dust was sprinkled into a snow globe and you gave it a shake. This showed you a little video clip of what a person had been doing.
I realise surveillance owls and unicorns might present a few civil liberties challenges but we can iron out the finer details. If we can figure out how to give a person a credit rating we can probably work out a workable kindness rating system.
If you had been judged to be unkind and therefore not eligible to make a withdrawal you have the option of going away and doing something kind to make amends. You can then return to get some cash.
My daughter decided the bank should be called the Bank of Good Hearts (I’ll admit this is a bit cheesy but it would definitely make a good logo). We’d have to send all of the bankers on in depth kindness training. They might like it as it would clean up their some what tarnished public reputation.
It’s a bit out there but I overall I think it is inspired. Basing your banking system on packaging up sub prime lending is also a bit hard to imagine and someone thought that was a good idea once so in comparison it doesn’t seem that far fetched.
This week has been lightening fast and there’s been a lot going on. The standout theme of this week is taking time to enjoy the little things. Here’s a round up of the tiny moments that have added joy to our week.
Leo’s face lighting up when he opened the Mr. Tickle birthday card that Sofia had bought for him.
Sofia was star of the day at school and helped some reception children with their reading – she was so proud of herself.
Popping into our local cafe for a quick coffee with my husband after we’d done the school/pre school run on Tuesday. It was precious little moment between the chaos of the morning (we’d overslept so it was a horrible scramble to get out of the door) and the rush of the rest of the day.
The boys getting really excited to go on a train on when we took a little trip into town – they waved and said goodbye train as we got off.
Bumping into a lovely friend who I haven’t seen for a while when we popped to our local garden centre for lunch. The boys dancing to the flashing Christmas lights.
Sofia laughing when she found a satsuma in her welly.
Seeing a rainbow as we dashed home in the rain – Sam shouting wow and being completely mesmerised!
Getting the chance to cycle to work and back and noticing that the hills that I used to struggle to climb are now much easier.
The comedy moment of Sofia trying to explain to her brothers what a hamster was.
Dancing on my own in my kitchen to Spice Up Your Life turned up loud on the radio.
My elderly neighbour inviting the kids to pick flowers from her beautiful garden. She said she wanted people to enjoy them before the cold killed them off.
Snuggling on the sofa with Sofia when the boys were in bed catching up on Strictly Come Dancing – she loved Ainsley Harriot dancing as a penguin.
Hearing the boys chatting to each other in their cots first thing in the morning.
Sam trying to feed Cheerios to his toy Kwazi (a pirate cat for non Octonauts aficionados).
Trying to teach Sam and Leo to scoot on our local cycle way. Sofia cheering them on and helping to keep them safe when bikes passed by.
The kids crouching down to see a caterpillar we found on the ground.
The kids helping with the supermarket shopping. Sofia zapping with the scanner and the boys taking it in turns to put stuff into the trolley. It made a normal and potentially boring trip much more fun.
Find the joy
It’s so easy to seek out big exciting experiences in life (and the big stuff is great) but don’t forget to find the beauty in the little everyday moments.
We absolutely love Halloween in our house. It is my birthday on the 31st of October so it has always been a day for celebration for me. When I was a little kid I used to think all the Halloween stuff in the shops was there for my birthday. It may the build up to my birthday really exciting. As an added bonus people tend to remember when my birthday is.
I am a Christian and I know that a lot of Christians are not okay with Halloween but to me there isn’t really a conflict. We are defiantly not worshiping darkness or evil. It is a day to dress up and have fun as a family. We tend to get less and less scary every year. I also love getting creative and it is a great excuse to do that.
Here’s a little run down of our family Halloween costumes (apologies for the rather amateur photography).
This was my 30th birthday and we had a hero and villains party to celebrate – this was joint party with my friend Christian and I loved that everyone really got into the spirit and went all out with the dressing up (I sometimes think it you don’t love dressing up maybe we shouldn’t be friends!). We were getting all dressed up ready and then wanted to include Sofia so popped out to get her little witches outfit from the supermarket.
Sofia as a ladybird, Rolando as a mummy and me as a skeleton. My friend lent us this lovely ladybird costume for Sofia. Me and Rolando botched together our costumes for the photos. I love these pictures as Sofia looked adorable and it was a really fun spontaneous afternoon just messing around at home.
I’d got the family Halloween bug by now and decided to go for a bit of a theme this year. I love these Flintstones costumes. I bought and adapted the Fred and Wilma costumes and made Sofia’s super cute Pebbles one. I made the little bone in her hair out of papier-mâché.
The boys were just over two weeks old here and I’d only been home from hospital for a week so I’m not sure how we managed to pull this off. Sofia had a beautiful Tinker bell outfit from the Disney Store, it was a treat for being so amazing amid the crazy newborn twin days. She used to wear it all the time – it was completely normal for her to get home from school and then switch her uniform for Tinker Bell. We made all the other bits on the afternoon of Halloween. We DIYed the boys t-shirts, a spider web and a spider, just using a black marker pen on plain vests. Rolando was a Dracula and I was a cat – they were a bit improvised but I think we pull it off.
A friend gave us the tiger suit that Sam is wearing and it gave me the idea to do a big cat theme. My mum happened to be staying with us so we persuaded her to get involved too. I love Rolando’s leopard print onesie!
I completely love these Toy Story outfits! They took quite a lot of time to make and I was searching the internet for all of the accessories for quite a few weeks before hand (I’d just bought a sewing machine so made Rolando’s waistcoat and Sofia’s Jessie top). I love how it all came together. Sam and Leo’s suits were meant to be pyjamas. It took a little persuasion to get Rolando into character, this is when it helps that it is my birthday as people have to go with my ideas
I haven’t totally nailed this years theme yet. The boys are definitely going to be minions so we are probably going to do a bit of a cartoon theme. The other characters are still up for debate. It is a bit trickier now that Sofia as she is a bit older as she has very clear ideas about what she does and doesn’t like.
P.S Have lots of fun for Halloween but please be careful. Remember candles, flames and costumes do not mix!
Sam and Leo turned three today! It seems such a short time ago I waddled into the operating theatre, terrified but excited to finally met my little boys. The kids birthdays make me feel really nostalgic about the kids growing up. In appearance the boys are incredibly similar but they are definitely developing very different characters. Here a little birthday tribute to the little things that make my gorgeous boys so different.
You have a cheeky face that always looks like you are up to something (you usually are).
You love owls and have two cuddly ones to sleep with.
You are a little bit scared of the dark.
You love dogs and love to stroke our neighbour’s cat.
When I come home you say “mummy I found you.”
You are a fearless climber, this quite often scares the life out of me.
You love to get stuck in with bigger kids at the playground.
You always say sorry even if something is not your fault
You have a little bit of a temper and will shout if you get frustrated or annoyed.
You do a really good impression of a robot.
You absolutely hate fish fingers.
Your favourite phrase is where are we going?
You lean in close to me to do an Eskimo kiss
You tell us you are a big boy every day.
You think it is hilarious to sneak up to me or Rolando and give us a massive lick on the cheek.
You like to eat purple grapes and give the green ones to Sam.
We had a family day out on Sunday so that Sofia could be involved – she was at school on the boys actual birthday. We visited Shepreth Wildlife Park for the afternoon. The kids really enjoyed the animal encounters talk and had the chance to stroke some animals. I was not too enamoured with the hissing cockroach and turned down the offer of holding it. Sam and Leo had a little stroke of a rat (which made Rolando squirm). We all enjoyed seeing the otters being fed, especially the little tricks that they do like fetching a ball and going down a slide.
We bought a fantastic train set table (it was pre-loved but still amazing). Luckily we got organised to set it up last night as it took a little longer than we thought it would. There was a moment when we were testing the theory how many adults does it take to assemble a train set.
The boys faces lit up when they saw it and it kept them entertained for a lot of the day – Granddad also got stuck in. The boys also loved the Octonauts figures that Sofia had chosen for them. It was so sweet that she wanted to contribute her pocket money to buy them herself. Another hit was the plastic animal figures although there was a bit of scuffle over who got the baby elephant.
Super hero pizza party
We celebrated this evening with my family by having a superhero birthday tea. The boys and Sofia had cool superhero t-shirts (Primark specials). We also got some cute superhero decorations and masks in John Lewis to add an extra super hero touch. Rolando made us lovely homemade pizzas and we had cartoon cakes.
It’s been a roller coaster three years. We definitely deserve a little glass of something this evening to toast getting this far!