Friday, 4 November 2011

The Perfect Dress

Seren got her 'winter dress' a couple of weeks ago. I love it. This is Seren's third Next cord dress. Her first was a gift from a very good friend and I thought she looked adorable in it.
Bonny girl
Her second I bought on the back of the first dress, and she wears it in my favourite photo of my three little ones.
Three under two

And now this one, I love it. I love autumnal colours and to me, she just looks so adorable.
Toddler fun in Church
Next Autumn/ Winter 2011
Which got me to thinking. Girls need dresses. I have always bought Seren a couple of dresses in each size she's been in, even though it is far more practicable for her to be in trousers. And then I realised, most of my favourite photos are of her in dresses:

Baby dressBoden funBoden style
First ChristmasToddler cruising

Toddler trampolineHappy Christmas
The girl with the red balloonParty dressesFun at Harlow Carr

So, from the person who wears trousers to work 99% of the time, and is always in jeans or cords in my free time. Dresses rock!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Parenting twins

This definitely is not an 'expert' view, there are many decisions and approaches you take as a parent, some are frowned upon, some keep you up at night, some work out and some don't.

And when you add multiples to the equation, even if you think you can learn from your first (singleton) experience, the curve ball is thrown and you're almost starting again.

When Seren was born, we gave in to her every whim. We had what the health visitor called a "fussy baby", this meant changing from breast feeding to bottle (for both our sanities), soothing her to sleep, and generally doing everything we resolved not do "pre-baby".

I went back to work at six months, and I didn't mind Seren's sleeping routine was 10 till 10. We had a baby who slept through for twelve hours and I could spend lots of time with her when I finished work, Tony had some time to himself each morning.

When we found out we were pregant with twins this was the first thing to change. We managed to get Seren's bedtime to 8.30 by the time the boys came into the world.

With the boys it's been a whole different ball game. I don't like the word 'strict' but we have definitely adopted a routine, which we manage, on the whole, to stick to. And, life is so much better for it.

Within four weeks of the boys being born we used moses baskets for sleep in the day, downstairs, and they shared a cot at bedtime. At four weeks I started putting them in the cot at 7 every night. I tried not to take them downstairs till at least 9am so they got used to 'cot time'.
With bottle feeds we tried to be meticulous in feeding them at appropriate intervals and making sure they managed all their feed. This was slightly more difficult with Tom however, by 12 weeks we had it cracked and they began sleeping through for 12 hours at night.
My mum was shocked by this, disbelief I think that we were actually managing it, and how well the boys responded to it.

I read something in the first few weeks about babies needing an amount of milk over a 24 hour period, and if a baby could cope with this in daytime hours they were more likely to sleep through. We were also given guidance from the doctor about how much a baby should drink per lb of wieght.

This worked for us. It meant feeding the babies every three hours in the day but it meant a night's sleep- a compromise I was happy to make. As soon as I could I started to 'tandem feed' the boys. As they had bad wind this wasn't as soon as other twin mums had managed but if they didn't take all their feed they needed feeds more often and so patience had to prevail.
Bottle feeding twins
As is always the way, life was so difficult when the boys were on seven feeds a day and each was taking two hours. I have memories of lining up so many distractions for Seren in advance of every feed so I could focus on the boys.
As I couldn't tandem feed at night I would also have to decide who was crying loudest and use a swing upstairs to soothe the other.
It is of course, even now, a distant memory. In more surreal moments I joke with the other half about baby number 4. He jokes about triplets!

As they've moved onto solids it's been more of a juggling act, finding the right routine so they're eating three meals but not filled up on milk. They're on four milk feeds a day and our challenge is trying to get them to drink all of their last bottle so they'll sleep through, but that they've had a meal at 'tea time' as well.

I'm sure we'll get to a routine with this as well. The boys, at ten months, still aren't supporting themselves that well, we still rely predominately on bouncers, with bumbos when possible. Hopefully as we move to high chairs, we'll move to a routine which works for the family.

Whether routines are right or wrong, we have two happy babies and that's what matters most to us!
Happy twin boys

Twin boys in park
This post was written as part of the Multiples Mayhem Carnival hosted by All About The Boys

Our family holiday: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest

In September, we were fortunate enough to get a week off and get away. Center Parcs appeared the ideal location, with the boys and Seren we need somewhere with enough distractions to keep everyone entertained. More importantly, my mum and dad had agreed to go with us so there was plenty of time for everyone to get some 'me' time.

I could not recommend the place enough for toddlers. We intentionally went outside the school holidays, and fortunately at a place like Center Parcs this meant there will still plenty of little people to make the place feel family orientated and very few older children so the place wasn't too manic.

A lot of people said there is enough to do on your first visit without booking activities, however, my need for structure and inability not to look through a catalogue without picking something to buy did prevail. Seren did a few activities and still shouts "Where's Rupert?" now, so memories were definitely made!
Teddy Bear's Picnic, Center ParcsFamily fun at Center Parcs
Balance Bikes, Center Parcs
I managed to 'impress' Mr J by doing the Ariel Adventure:
Ariel Adventure,  Center Parcs

Although my legs did ache for it! Mr J just took the whole thing in his stride!
Ariel Adventure, Center Parcs

Mr J also managed to find out about the squash courts so managed to get in a few games (and even win medals!)
Squash, Center Parcs

And at the end of the day, there was plenty of time to spend as a family:
Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest

The Pancake House, Center Parks

Center Parcs do have it sussed. It is the perfect home from home in terms of holidaying with young people. With lots of activities to keep everyone entertained and with paths around the 'Parc' making it perfect for bike rides and walks. we were happily exhausted in the evening, although I do wonder- without the Rugby World Cup, what would my dad have done at 4am in morning! Mum was most easily pleased, the Starbucks profits probably went up the week we were there!

We're looking forward to another holiday, and we may try out the Longleat Center Parcs next!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Gallery: 'T' is for...

... well, for me it's going to have to be twins, by little gorgeous boys who had me stunned from the first scan. They are the most wonderful surprise, I found this t-shirt set on Facebook the other day, I suspect they will soon adorn the boys, I couldn't have summed it up better:
Perfect tops for twins
My little boys are almost ten months, and they are so cheeky, they are so aware of the other- especially when there's a toy involved. They roll in different directions round the lounge and are so different from those little babies who rushed into the world in January:
Newborn twin boys

Twin boys squash players
Daddy's future squash champion and Mummy's future Rugby International

One month in!

Well, we have almost reached four weeks in our new abode.

Today, our new bedroom furniture arrives, I’m very excited.

We have moved from a typical Yorkshire three storey terrace to a relatively new house which you used to draw when you were little.
A property in Rhoose
I hadn’t figured the implication of this before we moved in. Our Yorkshire house was unique, iggledy- piggledy, our random unmatched furniture fitted perfectly.

Our new house has rooms which are perfectly proportioned, no wonky walls, no quirks from years of changes.

When we moved in it quickly became apparent that we had too much of the wrong furniture- admittedly we have three cots, a toddler bed and a junior bed, a bit extreme for a family with three children!
A room fit for twins
We got the boys room sorted straight away (although we’ve now decided we’d like to take the walls down to a lighter blue). They finally have their own cots, although we haven’t succeeded in separating them.
Twins first bedroom
We then broke our bed (don’t ask- it was fixed, but never overlook the opportunity created), it fitted perfectly with my nagging requests for bedside tables and matching furniture. Cue furniture searches and a sale on bedroom furniture. By tonight we will have a room that vaguely matches.

We are going to take the extreme step of letting Seren have our broken(ish) double bed. I have no idea whether this is a good idea of not. I do know that we have pandered to her for so long, and that her routine is to snuggle with mummy or daddy in our bed, only to be moved into her own bed when she has fallen asleep. Whilst we have managed the snuggle down to under 30 mins and she does sleep through on the majority of nights, it is the hassle of moving her to her bed. So, we are trying her in a double bed so we have snuggle in her room and then she is set for the night. And maybe in time she won’t need snuggles- I can hope!

We did of course pop out this weekend to give her room a coat of paint before the bed moved in. In getting curtains for her room I have reneged on all my pre-parent mentality and gone with pink. Polka dots and gingham to be exact. I can’t help it. I would love her to have a pirates bedroom (she loves pirates) but I have two boys to explore these ideas with, oh but I still can’t convince myself pink was for the best.

We have sorted the bathroom and the spare room is in need of curtains but otherwise sorted.

So, I am quite proud of our first month in, upstairs nearly sorted with the absolute joy of fitted wardrobes which actually fit our clothes in!

Roll on December, we’ll have downstairs sorted (fingers crossed) and will have our house ready for… the New Year (no use of the ‘C’ word around here!).

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Listography: Top 5 Keyword Searches on your Blog

Ok, so with broadband successfully enabled I am enjoying catching up on blogs, especially Kate Takes 5. It may not be Saturday morning, but I couldn't help but seek out my contribution to this week's listography of top 5 searches.
So, as always,  here goes, random people:

1. Mountain buggy duet: this has resulted in quite a few people finding my blog. I don't even know why.

2. Pyloric Stenosis: a little more obvious- it'll take you here.

3. the touristy: again, really not sure

4. "blue october" or "octobre bleu" or "blue azul"- quite a detailed search, and yes, mine is the one with the guy liner.

5.  Pretending to work from home: now I never said I pretend to work from home- more I'm not really sure what the difference is between being a mum and a working mum. But hey, quite interested in people googling this, do you think the tips are a plenty?


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Comedy value

So, I've just regained my broadband connection, only to discover one of my favourite bloggers has created a Tuesday Tea and Sympathy linky.

Now, I'm the first to admit at the moment I don't have a lot to complain about, but man have I had two days from a universe where someone on high is laughing at me.

I'm back working full time, I made the decision following the difficulties with flexible working I've mentioned previously. So, I've had a week of full time work, and now this week I have two nights away. So, yes, this is my first vote for sympathy:
1. I hate being away from home, I don't like the days where I leave before the babes are awake and are asleep by the time I get home. I really, really don't like there being an overnight involved as well.

So, yesterday morning I got up with the alarm at 5am (do I get another vote for this?) and left a little late for my 0630 train from Bridgend.
Mistake number 1 was not leaving enough time for the journey, so I played 'beat the clock' with the sat nav.

I managed to make it to the station for 0615, only to be greeted with a pay and display car park, without enough coins I had to attempt automated credit card payment by phone. Oh the comedy of trying to slowly say my registration number. In the end Mr Automated gave up and made the text option available.

I duly collected my train tickets and made my way to the platform.
And then there was the inevitable 'bing bong'.
Now, in Wales the welsh announcements are made first, I have a whole GCSE in welsh so consider myself able to recognise the odd term. I heard 'delay' now, acknowledging I'm no expert, I was surprised that the english translation of this turned out to be 'cancelled'... hmmm. Not happy.
I resorted to the waiting room with fellow passengers, and listened to the message repeated for the next 15 minutes.
Just imagine the reaction of the waiting room, when, at 0653 we all got to hear the announcement apologising for the 23 minute delay.
We all smiled, got back up and braved the elements on the platform to greet the train.
When another announcement asked us to ignore the previous one, the train was indeed cancelled.
How could they raise our hopes like this?
And then, one minute later, the 0630 train goes whizzing past the station. No doubt eager to meet the target for trains arriving in London on time.
Does this qualify me for sympathy vote number 2?!

And now, I am home, having managed to race across London today to catch an earlier train, and fortunately made it in time to put the babes to bed.

But for sympathy vote number 3. I have two massive blisters on my ankles and soles that hurt a lot.
I rediscovered a pair of boots at the weekend. Why oh why had I so rarely worn them?
So, I wore them to London, failing to pack another pair of shoes.
As we sat in our meeting on Monday, overlooking the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, a colleague begged for the team to have a stroll around en route to the hotel. By the time we got a mainline station the soles of my feet hurt so bad I ran to Accessorise for a pair of ballerina pumps. By the time we walked to the hotel I had put my pink socks on with my ballerina pumps to stop the pain of the blisters they had caused on my ankles.
Accessorise Ballet Pumps

Not even a pair of shoes made my world a better place.
Definitely a sympathy vote guaranteed?!!


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Pastures new

Good bye "Pleasant View"

Tonight is my last night in our first family home.
Our daughter's first home.
Where we spent our wedding night.
Where our sons have had their home for the past eight months.

Tomorrow I will take the children on a one-way journey to Wales.
We will spent the rest of the week with my parents.
On Friday we will move into our new family home.

And oh my flippity-chick, why does it never get easier.
Last Friday we had to resort to threatening to pull out of the sale.
Seriously contemplating living with my parents until a new sale could go through.
Nothing like a bit of tension and stress to add to the current mountain of worries.
"Why is September 30th so precious to you?" asked the estate agent on Monday.
Well, we've never been particularly precious about any date, apart from this was the date that we agreed on June 11th when our offer was accepted.
And up until last Friday it was never an issue.

I have always lived with a 'just in time' mentality, this does not mean 'lean'- I do not do things in the quickest possible time, I have unfortunately, on the whole, fallen into the mindset of if I offer a deadline people work to it.
And this seems to be the world of house buying and selling, solicitors just seem to work to the completion date rather than the quickest time to exchange.
I've got used to this, it was just our nervous vendors who weren't happy.
Which made us not happy.

As always, things have worked out. Friday will be stressful. The vendors hadn't booked a removal firm until Monday and as a result aren't quite sure at what time on Friday they can give us full access to the house- with 7pm mentioned.

South Wales
On Saturday Mr J and I will wake up in our new family home.
On Sunday, Seren, Tom and Seb will wake up in their new bedrooms, in a house that will become their home, hopefully for the longest possible time.

And so tonight is my last night living at Back Longfield.
We've had our last supper, our last clink of glasses.

Our future starts tomorrow.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Listography - Top 5 Celebrities I'd like to go for a beer with

This is becoming a wonderful Saturday ritual for me, hubby goes off to squash for the morning and whilst the babes take a nap I take 5!
As I'm typing this I'm wondering if this time next week we'll actually have broadband... or a home... but hey- live in the moment!!

So, this week's Kate Takes 5 listography is celebrities to go for a drink with. I started with a list, I then realised my select few included those that "don't do alcohol", I tried to choose some more but then figured, they don't have to drink their beer...

1. Hugh Jackman. Because he's at the top of every list. Admittedly, it may be Wolverine, it may be Hugh... I'm not fussy!
Hugh Jackman
2. Rhod Gilbert: Welsh, funny, and I like him! I can really see this being a critical part of my reintroduction to Wales.

3. Charlotte Church: I think this would result in an excellent night out in the 'Diff!
Charlotte Church

4. Robin Williams- I have loved this man forever, and would settle for a lemonade..

5. Drew Barrymore: because in  a non-stalker type way, I reckon we'd get on!
Drew Barrymore


Monday, 19 September 2011

Save the Children- No Child Born to Die

Saturday saw the first Save the Children Bloggers Conference put into motion ahead of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, where world leaders will meet and life changing decisions will be made.

On Tuesday, Chris Mosler (@ChristineMosler) will attend the UN General Assembly in New York. She is going there with Liz Scarff on behalf of Save the Children to pressure David Cameron to play his full part in solving the health worker crisis. There is a target of 60,000 signatures on the petition by Tuesday.

Here's what we can do to help:
  1. So first off - Let's all sign the petition, 30 seconds work and a step closer.

  2. Then the challenge set by @HelloItsGemma and @MichelleTwinMum is that to see 100 posts of 100 words linked up here by Tuesday. If 100 bloggers each write a post about this and encourage more signatures that could make a massive dent in the 20,000 signature shortfall that we sit with right now!

    Write your 100 words about a great health professional you have encountered in your life. Add a link to the petition and either link or add in some information from Save the Children about the #Healthworkers campaign

  3. Link to a number of other bloggers/ vloggers and ask them to do the same.

  4. Tweet about this, facebook mention it, remark on google plus, talk to your Mum on the phone, whatever you can do to spread this to just a few more people, please do it.

Why is this so important?

Save the Childrens new report, No Child Out of Reach, shows 350 million children will never see a health worker in their lives.
Children living in the UK will see a doctor or a nurse at least ten times in their first five years. But in Africa and Asia millions of children die every year from easily preventable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, simply because they have no way of being seen by a trained health worker if they fall sick.
Surely no mother, no one, can think this acceptable. If everyone just does one tiny thing- like sign a petition- a difference can be made.

Health workers save lives

Doctors, nurses and midwives are vital to help children survive. Without them, no vaccine can be administered, no life-saving drugs prescribed and no woman can be given expert care during childbirth.
But the massive shortfall of health workers in some of the poorest countries is hitting the most vulnerable children and families the hardest.
Half of the 8 million children who die each year are in Africa, yet Africa has only 3% of the world’s doctors, nurses and midwives.

No Child Born to Die

Children are dying from causes we know how to prevent or treat.
That’s why lots more doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers are needed in the poorest countries. We can stop millions of children dying.
Our No Child Born to Die campaign has helped secure a massive increase in funding for life-saving vaccines. Now we must take the next step to ensure children don’t die simply because they are too poor to see a doctor or nurse.
Sign our petition to the PM now
and so I leave you with my 100 words:

Finding out we were having a twin pregnancy was a shock, finding out that ‘twin 1’ had stopped growing at 30 weeks was heart wrenching, the support from midwives and health workers was tremendous, ensuring we had the best possible care and monitoring, even late into New Year’s Eve.

Finding out that twin 1- Tom had stopped growing again at 8 weeks old was too much, admitted with pyloric stenosis, I needed so much strength, and those at two hospitals were able to provide this, always there to support with a smile- no matter what.
We are fortunate.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Listography: Five things that make my house a home

So this week, Kate is taking on the Save the Children's Blogging 101 Workshop in London- it would have been wonderful to have attended, but London is a bit far, and we only got back from our hols yesterday so I would have been pushing my luck.

So the listography for this week is being hosted by Mother Porridge at the theme is ‘five things that make my house a home’. Quite timely, hopefully we are now on two week countdown to moving to a new house... so what things will make Rhoose a home?

1. Family: does this go without saying? Without the noise, chaos and disorder how could anywhere feel like home?
Three under 2
2. Our sofa: the comfy brown thing that sits in our lounge, takes all kind of abuse, but still puts up with us no matter what.
Sleeping toddler
3. Our pets... a strong link to number 1, we've just come back from a break without Miller- convincing Seren he was on a 'doggy holiday'. Oh, the excitement when we got back!

4. Pictures: whether they be photos or paintings or cross-stitches by my mum. I have carried many from home to home, accumulating many more along the way.

5. Clutter: no matter how hard I try to be tidy- and the office and bedrooms are testament to this, the lounge, kitchen and bathroom never lack clutter. Piles of paperwork, piles of washing, toys and books. I'm not sure if we mind, we say we do, and yet it stays.


Twin necessities: My top ten

Multiples Mayhem Carnival at Mummy with a Heart
This week is the Multiples and Mayhem Carnival over at Mummy from the heart and this is my attempt at a contribution.

This is my list of must have's for having twins. It does have the background of already having a little one but here goes:

1. Changing table- I didn't have one for my little girl. And oddly I have never changed a baby's nappy on it. Yet it is so valuable for storing the inevitable mass of toiletries, nappies, muslins and other paraphernalia. As a formula feeding mum the added use is that I use the changing mat top for night time feeding equipment so I don't have to be running up and down the stairs.
Preparing for a twin onslaught!
2. Baskets- Again, for whatever reason I haven't used a changing mat this time (I have been lucky!) but baskets downstairs and upstairs for nappies, wet wipes, cotton wool, etc have proved invaluable, a basket in the kitchen for rinsed bottles needing cleaning, in the bathroom with toiletries in. Baskets are a reasonably priced investment, and later can be used for storing toys, etc.

3. Sleep dividers and cot divider- at eight months my boys still share a cot. This has been a choice of convenience, we will need to completely overhaul my room to get two cots in and mummy out, and we are moving at the end of the month- so we're waiting. However, the cot divider and sleep positioner are hangovers from my little girl, the cot divider for me has always been a must for my peace of mind and the sleep divider was the same, but they came into their own again with the boys. In my world they love sleeping in the same bed, they did for nearly nine months and they frequently hold hands. But they did have a habit of creeping into each other's space and I wasn't ready for additional fears so with a sleep positioner each they continue to keep each other company.
Twins in a single cot

4. Bath supports- we bought these especially for the twins. Squeaks went from a baby bath to the bath with the knowledge that one pair of hands would be enough, and other twin mums recommended bath supports. It took a long time for me to build the confidence to bath them together but couldn't believe how much these supports gave me that confidence. I probably only used them for a few weeks as they now bath with the freedom to kick legs, but they were well worth the investment as otherwise they'd still only be bathed every other day!

5. Two bouncers, two swings- a major luxury, but a must with a toddler and for sleep purposes. We started with one of each, but unlike Squeaks they both liked the swing. The swing was great for night time feeds, when one had to *patiently* wait whilst the other was being fed, tandem feeding didn't happen till around 16 weeks. A bouncer in the bathroom for separate baths. And a swing and a bouncer downstairs for daytime. It's true, they could have been carried upstairs at bedtime and downstairs in the morning, but what with everything else...

6. Two sterilisers- again, one for formula feeding. I had managed to get both an electric and microwave steriliser for half price, the microwave one was more for spending time at my parents. But, when the electric one packed in we wouldn't have coped without a back up to hand.

7. One cot- as number 3, if you can save any expense till later on, every little helps. We could have saved on a cot till the boys were at least six months old.

8. One moses basket- I ended up getting an extra as a bargain off ebay when they seemed to outgrow the single. I needn't have bothered. They soon started napping in their bouncers or buggy. They slept in their cot from the time they came home from hospital so having a moses basket downstairs was only a temporary need.
Baby twins in moses basket
9. A diary- my definite must, and for once not because I love stationery, but for carrying on the recording you do in hospital of feeds and nappy changes, and other such things. My diary became the evidence I needed later on when Tiny was taken into hospital, but also it provided additional sanity in recording who had drank what, had a poo... you know, the things you live your life by!

10. A play pen- I joke my house it tidier with three children than with one. The joy of a play pen- at the end of a day just throw everything in for an instantly tidy lounge.

Maybe next time, a top 10 of not what to buy would be as valuable!
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