Fin. Presque.

Here’s the thing. I actually wrote this post about a month ago and sat on it while I decided what to do. All of the stuff below still stands – I won’t be writing about R and G and our life in the House of Twins any more – but I have really enjoyed liveblogging One Born Every minute over the last couple of years and the new series is starting tonight and…well, I’ll certainly do a couple of episodes and see how I feel.

Anyway. Here’s why I’m ending the House of Twins blog:

House of Twins began life on the Babycentre website shortly after they developed their social networking platform and allowed users to create their own journals. It was a wet Sunday morning, Dh was working and the month-old R and G were snoozing peacefully. I created my Babycentre social networking profile, wrote my first journal entry ‘A little about me’ and said that I wanted to write a journal to satisfy a creative itch (and privately, to prevent my brain from dissolving into a puddle of sleep-deprived mush.)

In April 2008 I duplicated the journal on a separate blogging platform and plucked the name House of Twins from the air because I couldn’t think of anything better. By then the blog had become my public soapbox, on which I railed, ranted and tried to reason with myself about parenthood and, more specifically, All The Things About Other People That Drove Me Mad. Also, I felt that lots of other Mummy blogs were painting a rather rosy picture of parenthood whereas I was determined to be truthful. Parenting is both great and horrible, often at the same time and I wanted to portray that honestly.

Occasionally I was too honest for my own good. I certainly pissed a few people off with things I wrote. People questioned the wisdom of me writing about my mental health so honestly and publicly. I wrote about it because I am a crap liar. I couldn’t present a happy-clappy front whilst privately wishing I could run away. It’s part of the HoT story.

A side-note on me. The dark days of September 2008-March 2012 are – hopefully – firmly behind me and I came off my anxiety tablets in July, with no ill-effects and no November crisis. I now feel more like the early 2007 version of me than the terribly sad, frightened and bewildered creature that I became when the girls were small. I have kept my (current) good mental health quiet deliberately because I didn’t want to jinx it, but I feel really good at the moment (apart from my early mid-life crisis, but that’s not for here.)

I knew at some point I really ought to stop writing about R and G and earlier this year I decided that I would keep HoT going until the end of 2012 and bring it to a graceful end.

Why now? Well, the girls are now at school and they will soon be fluent readers and internet searchers. They don’t know that I write about them and I don’t want to get bullied at school because of HoT, or for them to read it and feel that I don’t love them or to feel exposed. I simply have no time to write HoT now and do it justice. I spent a lot of time writing about teeth and we’re now at the point where the girls are going to start losing the gnashers I waited so long for them to get. Real life has well and truly taken over and things like HoT have been squeezed to the margins. Finally, I’m simply not that cross about it all anymore. The things that mattered to me in 2008 and 2009 no longer seem that important. I can happily read or hear something now and think no more of it whereas 3-4 years ago I was a total keyboard warrior. I’m not totally reformed – occasionally I read something on Facebook or Twitter that is SO MIND-NUMBINGLY STUPID that I actually have to sit on my hands to prevent myself from replying but I’m mostly very well-behaved these days.

I think I have acquired a modicum of wisdom over the last five years and I suppose I ought to share it before signing off:

  1. Whatever you write you’re going to annoy someone, even something seemingly innocuous and that’s not something you can control.
  2. This too shall pass. I bloody hated this phrase when the girls were smaller, but it is annoyingly true. See also: it’s just a phase.
  3. Whatever you’re going through, someone else is going through something much worse. They may enjoy constantly reminding you of this in order to make you feel guilty.
  4. Every household, even a child-free household, should have a plentiful supply of baby wipes. They are useful for EVERYTHING.
  5. Some people, no matter how generous you’re feeling, will get on your tits for no apparent reason.
  6. Just because your children are friends, you don’t have to be friends with their parents
  7. If people vaguely promise you ‘help’ with your baby/ies, make them sign a contract. In blood.
  8. You can cope with a lot more than you think, especially if you get a decent amount of sleep.
  9. Just when you think you’ve cracked it, something happens and you realise you’re still a hopeless hack
  10. Having a baby won’t magically heal a relationship that’s already going wrong. It will make a bad situation much MUCH worse. Dh and I are lucky and we really liked each other before we had the girls. Thankfully, five years down the line we still do. That said, you also have to work at a relationship and you both have to want to do so.

Finally, I say this to Dh a lot (probably to convince myself as much as him) but I am firmly convinced that we will look back on this time at some point in the future and feel ridiculously proud at what we achieved with the girls. That or we’ll be insane. One of the two.

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We’ve got five on it

Tomorrow I become the joint owner of two five year old girls, which is weird because last time I looked R and G were toddlers and I was wondering if they would ever actually reach school age and if I would be sane enough to appreciate it when they did.

Prior to the girls’ fourth birthday I was wondering whether they would ever actually night train (G managed it in the spring/summer and R in the autumn) and wondering what we’d do in the nine months before they started school. I was determined to just let them be children for a bit before they went on to the full-time education treadmill, with all that entails. I think we managed that and had a fairly amazing summer with a family holiday, the Jubilee celebrations and the whole London 2012 thing.

The girls have been at school since September and as a family we are still adjusting to the changing rhythms of our days and weeks. We were settling into a pattern when they both (separately) had chicken pox and everything got thrown up in the air again. Things will settle down. They generally do.

We attended their first parents’ evening prior to half-term and came out from the meetings with their respective teachers feeling extremely proud and impressed at how well R and G had adapted to school. There have been some teething problems: G’s determination to learn everything and be best friends with everyone at once has impacted on her behaviour at home because she is constantly exhausted (having her at home for the last few days with The Pox has reminded me how sweet she actually is) and R is slowly emerging from her sister’s shadow and learning to tell people how good she actually is at things, instead of hiding her talents and only revealing them when she’s absolutely ready to do so.

They are both fiercely competitive in different ways. G seems quite fluffy and airheaded but she’s got a well-hidden ruthless streak. They both have kindness charts in their respective classrooms and G was very proud when her name went on to the ‘Kindness kite’. R, slightly affronted, asked what she’d done to achieve the accolade. G’s sage reply was ‘Well, you do something REALLY NICE for someone and when you’ve done it, TELL A TEACHER’. R followed her sister’s advice and her name went on to the ‘Kindness tree’ a few days later.  R’s competitiveness is probably summed up best by her reaction to watching GB cyclists ‘only’ winning silver at the Paralympics (even now, when reminded about it, she will berate me for being fair and cheering all of the competitors, not just the ones I wanted to win) and the fact that she finally got the ten achievement stickers she needed to get a prize (a notebook), and promptly giving said prize away to her sister.

I was concerned that the school transition would lead to a rapid loss of innocence, but oddly that hasn’t quite happened yet. They have learned some interesting lessons though. R takes what people tell her extremely literally and was terribly upset when one of her friends said that a party the girls had been invited to had already happened and they’d missed it, when they hadn’t. I had to explain that her friend was joking (not lying – definitely not lying) and that sometimes people did that. We were walking to school one day when one of R’s classmates leapt up to them and said ‘I STOOD ON AN ANT AND IT WAS FARTING’. R and G both giggled uncertainly and R whispered ‘Mummy, what’s farting?’. G lives on her own Lola-like world so I wonder if she’ll ever lose that innocent quality. I think R will become more cynical and less innocent through experience.

I don’t quite know what to expect next. By their sixth birthday they’ll be in Year 1 and Reception will be a distant memory. They might have learnt to swim (every week I watch them at swimming lessons and pray that one day they might actually take their feet off the bottom of the pool) and they may no longer have stabilisers on their bikes. They are already making good headway with learning to read, so I reckon (hope?) they’ll be reasonably fluent by then (there’s only so much phonics one can cope with.)

This will be the last annual update I write on HoT though, as I’m going to end this blog at the end of 2012. There will be a separate post on this so I won’t go into it here but I think R and G’s sixth year is going to be great (although slightly less exciting than 2012.)

Where was I?

So…yeah…there hasn’t been a post for a bit. It’s been well over a month, actually. I’ve been taking my own advice and enjoying life and the girls (or The Things as they’re known to quite a few people) rather than fretting and writing about not having enough time to enjoy them.

I’m going to post a blog every night for a few days so I can catch up with things. Being able to auto-schedule posts is a boon on such occasions as it looks like I’m writing something every day (46 days style) but I’m actually cross-stitching in nowt but a thong my pyjamas and watching sport while my words are allowed to roam wild on t’internet.

Posts to come feature school preparation, night training, new beds, hearts, friends and whatever comes into my head over the next few hours…

The end of 46 Days 2012

46 days ago I wrote this:

“Expect missives about education, pre-school, primary school, phonics (theme developing already), book groups, parties, 4 year old wobblers, dressing up, reading, twin-ness and the fact that I’ve changed my name to Penny and Dh is now called Elvis…I’ll still be doing the One Born… liveblogs and might resurrect the Friday Photo, plus anything that pops into my brain over the next month and a half”

Here’s what happened, in numbers:

1 new book group set up

1 whinge about nursery

1 massive night out with the nursery mums

1 trip to the Zoo

1 trip in an ambulance to A&E

2 nights without Dh while he attended a stag do

2 book groups attended

2 triplet incidents

5Fourth birthday parties attended

5 days of rest

6 One Born Every Minute liveblogs

6 ballet & tap parent coffee mornings hosted

7 Friday photo posts

Numerous whinges

Numerous ‘I’m so lucky’ posts

46 blog posts written and posted

I definitely got back into the swing of blogging and didn’t find it a chore to do. I recorded lots of things in the last six weeks that I wouldn’t have done normally as I ‘had’ to find something to write about every day. Luckily R and G provide me with plenty of ‘fodder’ as do the general ups and downs of family life. It’s not been the best time for me health-wise (as well as my A&E dramas in March I’ve been ill for the last 24 hours) and I hate anything that interferes with my family life or my work life. I don’t have time to be ill! I bemoaned the many moods of R and G but I think that..maybe…just maybe they’re settling down a bit. I may be proved wrong on that!

I don’t know much (if any) chocolate I’ll feel up to eating tomorrow – I’ll make up for it at some point – but I’ll celebrate writing 46 posts in as many days in some small way.

Next for us is Primary School admissions day on the 18th April and I need to get myself better for the Summer.

Sellout

After ploughing a lonely little blogging furrow for almost four years I have decided to do a little bit more to promote HoT. I have always been a bit antsy about Mummy bloggers that make money off the back of their children – [puts on ancient rocker voice]I’m all about the ART, maaan, the writing process, being creeeeaaaative in my own virtual space [reverts to normal voice] –  but actually, I quite like the idea of connecting with a wider audience now that I’ve got a firmly established blogging identity*.

*I can’t believe I wrote that either.

I’m now a member of the Mumsnet Blogging Network. HoT is listed on their site and there’s a funky little badge to the right of the text you’re reading now. Apparently it means that I’m going to reach lots of new readers, connect with other bloggers and might eventually even make a teeny tiny bit of money, although I’m not entirely convinced about that part.

I have also set up a House of Twins Facebook page (it’s the thing to do, apparently) and at the moment I’m the only person on there, so drop by and give me a Like, or whatever it is that the cool kids do these days. I rather miss the old Facebook groups but I’m just a fuddy-duddy these days.

So, there we are. It’s all quite exciting. I just need to dislodge the song Sellout by Reel Big Fish from my brain.

Offline

While we were on holiday I went offline. For five days.

I wouldn’t describe myself as an IT addict but I definitely feel a need to be ‘connected’. I’m reasonably active on Facebook, I’m (begrudgingly) on Linked In and I have three Twitter profiles and two blogs. I like being in touch with my family, friends and professional contacts. My job is entirely web and e-mail based, so I spend a significant amount of time at a computer. I have an iphone so even when I’m away from my laptop, I can still keep tabs on things.

I didn’t deliberately plan to go offline. We stopped at a service station on the way to Center Parcs I automatically pulled my phone out of handbag to see if I’d had any messages. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I didn’t feel an urge to check my e-mails, Facebook or Twitter. I waited until we had arrived safety at our lodge and I turned my phone off.

Dh is pretty much wedded to his android phone and I figured that if anyone needed to get hold of me they could contact him. In a dire emergency our families knew where we were staying so could get a message to us. Anything else could wait for a few days.

I didn’t miss my phone at all. In fact, I felt oddly liberated without it. In any case, we were so busy that I didn’t have any time to play even if I had wanted to. I was too busy chucking myself down the water slides and leaping about with R and G to catch up on Facebook or Twitter!

I turned my phone back on just before we left on the Friday and even then I didn’t feel an urge to catch up on anything. As it turned out I hadn’t missed anything at all, aside from a pregnancy announcement on Facebook and that was easily rectified.

I don’t think I could be without my phone for so long in London. Something about living in a city reinforces my need to feel connected. I suspect that if I lived in the country I wouldn’t be quite so reliant on my mobile. Something about the countryside and animals and…nature stuff…makes me feel that the internet isn’t as important, somehow.

Connectivity is a self-feeding beast. You’re online so you Tweet or write a status update or blog. You get a response so you’re encouraged to write more and more and you’re sucked into the ‘If you’re offline you’re missing out’ trap. Normally I like this but I enjoyed living without it for a few days.

Caveats

A necessary evil of blogging, as I’ve found out in the three or so years I’ve been writing HoT.

If I wrote a secret diary I could probably get away with a lot more moaning, bitching, naming and shaming. However, I made the decision to ‘go public’ and so I have to accept the consequences. Once I have typed the words and uploaded a post, I lose ownership of it. Other people interpret my words as they see fit.

I’ve had two examples of friends that I got extremely angry about things that I’ve posted on HoT – one about 18 months ago and one fairly recently (pre-46 Days). Ironically, the posts that I think may have riled them weren’t actually about them at all. Those two people didn’t enter my head for a second as I typed the words, posted them up and let them out into the wilds of the Internet. One of the friendships is on the road to recovery (we’ve been falling out with each other periodically since we were ten years old and probably won’t stop!) and the other is broken beyond repair. The break was their choice not mine and is also based on things I apparently wrote about on Facebook as well  – amazing what people can read into your words if they really want to fall out with you. As they subsequently defriended me on Facebook, but not before telling me exactly what a horrible person I was, there’s no way of rescuing it.

I’ve always been very clear in my mind that I haven’t targeted anyone, deliberately or inadvertently, on HoT. My posts are inspired by R and G (obviously) and, as a keen observer of people ( bloody nosy), by a whole host of things I see and hear, both in ‘real life’ and online. I’m not SO stupid that I would coldly and callously decide to make someone, (particularly someone I know) a target of my words. That’s a pretty weird thing to do, right? It’s not like I sit in front of my laptop with a hitlist thinking ‘Ooh! They’ve pissed me off I’ll write a little poison pen letter on HoT’, shrieking with glee as I write pure venom designed to hurt someone. I’ve been bullied pretty badly at various points in my life and I know how soul-destroying and confidence-sapping it is. I simply wouldn’t put anyone else through that.

If you like what I write, read it. If you don’t…well, don’t. No-one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read it. If you have an issue with something I write then I’d rather discuss it in a reasonable manner and we can go from there. Don’t imagine all sorts of things about me, build them up so that I become a monster and then press the destruct button on the friendship. If I ever go too far (I’m willing to accept that my sarcastic, dry sense of humour is not to everyone’s taste), I’d rather know so I can pull back, or at least have the opportunity to defend what I write.

The lobotomy post I wrote on Thursday was inspired by something I saw on Twitter the previous day. It wasn’t aimed at any of the people in that particular discussion, but I after I put a link to the post on my account someone I know professionally contacted me and asked if my post was aimed at them, with a little winky emoticon afterwards. I replied in a jokey way and they responded in kind. Matter settled. We moved on. Isn’t that how adults are supposed to behave?

I now put caveats all over my posts. I can write something sarcastic (my sarcasm really is my downfall) but I have to write a disclaimer at the end of it. Why? One tires of hearing how much they suck after a while (I can beat myself up perfectly well – I don’t need you to do it for me) and frankly I don’t need the added hassle in my life. The caveats and disclaimers will remain, but if you see anything that you think is aimed at you, it really isn’t. Ok?