Friday, 30 October 2015

Look At What We Can Do!, part 2

Eliza and William are obviously on a mission to show off at every available opportunity. Not long after I published my last post, they climbed the stairs. Again, they made it look like it was something they knew how to do all along, and were just waiting for the right moment to spring it on us. William does a very cute little double-tap on each step with his leading hand as he goes up, like he's testing that the step is sound enough to take his henchness.
They're also honing their 'eating with spoons' technique, sometimes more successfully than others. Nice sticky homemade rice pudding is easy. Runny yoghurt less so.
We think William has mastered his first word - "cat". Well, that's what we've decided he's saying, given he'll point at Miles and pictures of cats and shout "CA!". But then he'll also do it to Kate, the logos on my t-shirts, blueberries, raindrops on window-panes, thin air and dogs. So perhaps it's his version of "Look!". Interesting fact for you: apparently twins often take longer to say real words as they are so happy to burble away to each other in their own little 'twinspeak'. 

They can also now clap their hands. I particularly like this as it's something I think I've taught them to do. Okay, not earth-shattering, but very adorable nonetheless, especially when they put each other in fits of giggles doing it.

Granny Viv spent the day with us last Friday, arriving laden with presents for all of us. E&W got slippers, trousers and a book. Kate got some jewellery. And I got a couple of Michael Rosen books: his Book of Very Silly Poems and Good Ideas: How To Be Your Child's (And Your Own) Best Teacher. I'm looking forward to working my way through that one and getting some ideas and inspiration.

Off we all headed to Oxford Brookes University where E&W were filmed for a promotional clip for the new Baby Lab. It's a very nice set up they have there, bright and airy and with lots of things to play with (and a cool one-way-mirror wall, which made me feel like I was in a New York detective show). We had lots of fun playing with the toys and being 'experimented' on. I'll post a link to the clip when it's been released.

On the way home, with Granny Viv gamely squeezing into the middle back seat,  Eliza discovered she can (almost) eat an apple. Well, she nibbled on it, got some of the flesh off, and seemed very pleased with herself. It's great that they're now in forward-facing car seats - we can see them more easily, and they can see about them much more too. William has an air of Captain James T Kirk as he sits, very relaxed, hands on the arms of his seat, looking like he's about to tell us to engage warp drive seven (given our car is a far-from-boy-racer Skoda Roomster - aka SS Roomster - such an order would be met with "THE ENGINE CANNAE TAKE IT, CAPTAIN!"). Eliza likes to wave her legs about and bang on the window with her feet, all the while keeping an eye out for interesting things outside.
With the clocks going back, the evenings drawing in, and the temperatures dropping, we've opened the winter wardrobe. E&W look very snuggly in their new coats. Eliza looks very Little Red Riding Hood, while William looks like he's ready for a trip into the rugged wilds.
Last but not least, yesterday E&W were officially discharged from the care of the Newborn Care Unit at the John Radcliffe. Their fantastic doctor, Dr Kevin Ives (and I can't say enough about how good a doctor he is - polite, caring, enthusiastic, a man who clearly loves children - an absolute credit to the NHS) is really pleased with how well they've come along since he saw them back on their first day in the world - I'll always remember him looking at them (frail, helpless, seemingly wrapped in cables and feeding tubes in their incubators), looking at us (worried, exhausted wrecks) and quietly saying "They will be fine", without a hint of doubt. Funny how four words can mean so much to you - it felt like he'd given me an enormous hug. In an odd way it's a shame that they'll never see him again.

And that's about it for this week!

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, give feedback, or make suggestions for what you'd like to see me write about (I'll happily do requests!) below - and please share this blog with anyone you think might be interested in it. Thank you!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Look At What We Can Do!

Eliza and William have had a pretty busy week, showing off a batch of new skills, which have appeared - as they seem to do - almost without warning.

Eliza has started pointing at things - me, Kate, Miles the Cat, the 'graffiti giraffe' picture at the top of our stairs, toys - and letting out excited little yelps as she does so (especially at Miles the Cat). She's also learned the art handing things to other people, which she finds hilarious, especially when she teases you by changing her mind at the last second and shaking her head vigorously, as if say "No, no, you can't have this, nah nah!".

William has mastered the important skill of making wibbly noises by flapping his fingers against his lips - he seems particularly pleased when I copy him, and Eliza tries to copy him too. He's also working on his wrestling moves, having dropped a very passable People's Elbow on me the other day, and is getting good at taking bumps, almost throwing himself from standing onto his belly, with a guffaw and enormous grin. I think he's going to be a little rough-and-tumble chap.

Perhaps most excitingly of all - Eliza can stand without support! Admittedly she doesn't look particularly graceful when she does so, her feet quite wide apart, her bottom stuck out a little (for those of you that know football, picture an offensive lineman set up for a pass block) but a stand is a stand is a stand. 
Eliza almost - but not quite - standing on her own, grinning at Kate when she comes home from work
The most delightful thing about all this is that they seem so pleased with themselves when they do these things, grinning at us with a "Look at me! Look at what I'm doing!" joy. It's guaranteed to cheer Kate and me up, no matter how tired/glum we might be feeling.
William's fascination with the bookcase continues. He seems to have lost interest in pulling books out (much to my relief, especially given how battered the sacrificial Where's Wally? annual now looks) - he now just likes looking at the spines of the books, running his hands along them like a connoisseur in a dusty old library (note to self: must dust more). He particularly likes the photo of the little black and white cat on Bruce Fogle's Cat Owners' Bible and of Alan Titchmarsh on the spine of his How to be a Gardener - Book One. He's also started gazing up at the higher shelves with a sort of wistful gleam in his eye, much like I imagine a mountaineer peers up at the snowy peak of Everest. How long before he tries to make an ascent, I wonder.
Can you spot the little cat?
We went out for a lovely walk in the countryside close to our home the other afternoon, making the most of a pleasant autumn afternoon. We put E&W in their backpack carriers and strode off into the wilderness. I felt very macho. We came across a couple of what can only be Fairy Thrones, and E&W had great fun scoping out the lie of the land from a new vantage point.
I really want E&W to grow up with a love and appreciation for the outdoors and nature. It's not something I had as a boy (mainly due to me being a lazy stay-at-home child), and getting out as a family is a really nice way to spend an afternoon. Plus it's a good workout, carrying a 10kg+ child on your back! If only they would work out a way of signalling they want to go faster that didn't involve pulling on hair/ears...

We've also recently discovered how much fun bubbles are...
...William managed to get up close and personal with Miles the Cat yesterday afternoon...
...and, in an impressive demonstration of forward planning, they've already posed for the band photo for the sleeve of their second 'difficult' album...
And that's about it for this week!

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, give feedback, or make suggestions for what you'd like to see me write about (I'll happily do requests!) below - and please share this blog with anyone you think might be interested in it. Thank you!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A Day In The Life

One of my readers, Si├ón, suggested I post up a mini-blog of a typical day - a great idea. So here is Friday, 2nd October for you...

5.30 Wake up (naturally). Check clock. Not yet time to get up. Hurray! Doze.
5.45 First alarm. I'm trying to train myself to wake up earlier than I need to, to give me half an hour or so to do some exercise/write/meditate. It's not working very well at the moment - I just turn the alarm off and wait for...
6.00 Second alarm. Shower, shave, dress. Yes, I could do all this later in the morning, perhaps when E&W have gone down for their post-breakfast nap, but I like doing it first thing. It's a little bit of 'me' time, it wakes me up, it freshens me up, it gets me mentally ready to go for the day. On days when I've not done it, I feel like I'm on the back foot all day, playing catch up.
6.30 Make breakfast. Kate and I are a little like Morecambe & Wise, ballet-ing around each other as we gather the things we need. Squeaks from William through the baby monitor, but not proper 'I'm awake!' noises, more his snuffling and wriggling noises. Eliza tends to wake up in a split second, William likes to take his time.
6.45 Back to bed for a read and a little quiet time before the day begins properly. Currently reading Robert Goddard's The Wide World trilogy - post-WW1 espionage and derring-do, very entertaining. If possible, we let E&W wake up naturally, rather than holding them to a strict timetable. It just doesn't feel right to wake up a slumbering tot.
7.00 They're awake! And they're always so excited to see Kate and me when we go in, wriggling and trying to jump about. I get down to the first nappy change of the day, while Kate goes downstairs to put the finishing touches on breakfast. Eliza and I play round one of The Sock Game - I win (by getting both her socks on), but it's a close-run thing.
7.10 Downstairs for breakfast, with Kate in charge of delivery this morning. This week, we've been encouraging E&W to feed themselves, which they're doing quite well with. They can get the spoon to their mouth - it just doesn't always still have porridge on it when it gets there.
7.30 I give E&W their milk bottle, which is also an excuse for a sneaky cuddle with both of them. Like I need an excuse.
7.50 Upstairs for another nappy change, and to get E&W dressed.
8.00 Kate leaves for work. I'm still wrestling with small people and their clothes.
8.10 Clothes are on! Pop E&W back into their cots so I can nip downstairs and put on a load of washing. 
8.15 Back upstairs to brush E&W's teeth. William loves looking at himself in a mirror while it's happening - I think he likes looking at his Big Ole Grin. Eliza is a bit more sensitive about having her teeth done, but this morning very graciously opens her mouth nice and wide and doesn't fuss too much.
8.20 Playtime!!

9.00 Naptime. Yesterday, they didn't sleep in the morning, which put the whole day out of whack both in terms of schedule and temperament. So I'm a little bit nervous that we might have a repeat today - but they settle down quite quickly. Cross fingers. I take a little time to catch my breath and brush my teeth.
9.10 Head downstairs for the regular wash-up, dry-up, tidy-up morning routine. 
9.50 Time for some cooking - today's recipe is lentil and vegetable mash. Impress myself somewhat at how well it turns out, and how little mess I make in the process! All is quiet upstairs - they're sleeping soundly! Hang out washing.
10.55 Pottering time. Catch up on some emails to friends, sort out my wardrobe a little, do a little bit of reading, daydream for a bit. It's all good for the soul.
11.30 E&W wake up. Change nappy. Round 2 of The Sock Game. I win again, only just. William is a bit damp around the edge of his nappy, which has made his Gro-Bag a bit wet too, so time for another load of washing.
11.45 Downstairs for playtime. E&W are pretty good at entertaining themselves, which gives me time to put lunch together. They're having finger food - bagel, avocado, cheese, tomatoes.
12.00 Lunch. They don't seem in the mood to eat much, so a lot of the food gets dropped on the floor, or thrown at me. It comes with the territory.
12.40 Clean up (both them, the floor and me). Moisture their faces - William loves it!
12.45 Playtime. Lots of exploration today - Eliza has found a whole new world under the dining room table.

13.35 There's a whiff in the air! Closer inspection reveals the feared Double Whiff! Everyone upstairs for another nappy change.
13.50 Naptime - a little early, but they're both ready for it.
13.55 Hang out washing. Tidy up. Wash up. 
14.20 Defrost freezer - my first ever attempt at it, and all that chipping and scraping is surprisingly invigorating. When done, the drawers open almost too easily. 
14.40 Pottering, and a bit more down time. E&W are not sleeping - lots of happy noises through the monitor, giggling, hooting, chattering.
14.55 Give up on them ever going to sleep, so get them up for milk, followed by nappy change, and then pop them in their cot while I get things ready for our daily afternoon walk.
15.35 Out for a nice loop walk, along a country path, round a park and back again. It's good to get some fresh air, and E&W seem to enjoy the change of scenery and a chance to watch the world go by.
17.00 Home. Playtime. Whiff from William - nappy change (he's having a productive day today!).
17.30 Kate arrives home. Eliza welcomes her by removing her trousers and waving them about. I get their dinner ready while Kate has a well-deserved play with her little bumpkins.
17.45 Kate gives them their dinner. 
18.20 Bathtime. We bath them together now, and they absolutely love it. Eliza can be screaming her head off, but as soon as her bottom touches the water she's laughing and splashing about. It's almost a shame to have to take them out. As tonight feels a little chilly, we've dug out their all-in-one sleepsuits - they look so cosy. I'm jealous. Consider getting a onesie (yikes!)
18.35 I give them their bedtime milk (more sneaky cuddles!)
19.00 Upstairs, teeth brush, into Gro-Bags, into cots, curtains closed, light off, music box on.
19.15 Storytime - I'm reading them Treasure Island. I do voices. All my pirates sound the same ("Arrrrr!"). They settle quite quickly.
19.30 Downstairs. Kate puts dinner together, while I have another quick tidy-up.
20.00 Dinner. We collapse onto the sofa and watch Castle on DVD. We don't watch much TV these days - Great British Bake Off, University Challenge - but tonight it's the return of one of our favourites - Have I Got News For You.  
21.20 Sounds of upset through the baby monitor. By the time we get upstairs they're both awake and sobbing. No clear reason. Attempts to quieten them down prove unsuccessful, so we give them some milk and cuddles. This works. They're dozing off again by 21.55. We sneak downstairs and sit quietly, waiting for it to go quiet again. 
22.05 Upstairs to read, with a cup of tea.
22.45 Get up to brush teeth.
11.00 Settle down to sleep. It doesn't take long to drift off.

So there you go. Hope you enjoyed this insight into a typical day in our lives.

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, give feedback, or make suggestions for what you'd like to see me write about (I'll happily do requests!) below - and please share this blog with anyone you think might be interested in it. Thank you!