Bye bye buggy

Me: It started with an e-mail from the local twins club…

My subconscious: The twins club? Don’t you have a long standing beef with the local twins clubs for being – let me get this right – elitist, cliquey, competitive, snobby and a whole host of expletives that aren’t suitable for family reading?

Me: Yup. They haven’t taken me off their mailing list even though I haven’t been anywhere near the playgroup for about three and a half years. I generally read their pleas for cash and cakes with my finger hovering over the delete button.

My subconscious: So you’d better explain the relevance of a twins club e-mail to the title of this blog entry then because I’m properly confused. Plus, this now reads like some hackneyed attempt at clever writing by an 11 year old.

Me

Anyway…there was an e-mail from the twins club. A midwife with a clinic at the local Sure-Start Children’s Centre had contacted the twins club because she was looking after a lady that was pregnant with twins, already had a nine year old son and was struggling to buy things for the babies, particularly a double buggy.

Our Nipper 360 has sat, unused and unloved, in the cupboard under the stairs since August 2010. I think I only used it then because I wanted to take the girls to the shop at the end of the day, Dh had taken the car to work and they were in A MOOD. It was such an occasion that I actually took a photo of it. We had always planned to sell the buggy when the girls eventually outgrew it. Realistically we could have done this a year ago but I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the buggy just yet.

I’m a bit of a softy at heart and the e-mail did something to me. I spoke to Dh and asked him if he minded giving the Nipper away rather than selling it. He very sweetly agreed that he liked the idea of someone that really needed a buggy getting the benefit of it. I felt a little bit emotional and he gave me hug. I fired off a reply to the secretary of the Children’s Centre stating that we had a buggy and could they make use of it?

I got a very swift reply. The secretary thanked me for my offer and said she’d forward my details to the Midwife. The weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything. I figured that, as the appeal had gone to a fairly affluent set of women, someone had offered a properly amazing buggy like a Bugaboo Donkey or a Jane Powertwin and the Nipper wasn’t quite up to standard.

About six weeks later I got an e-mail from the Midwife. She had been overwhelmed by my offer and definitely wanted to take me up on it. I called her and we arranged to deliver the Nipper to the Children’s Centre.

Dh dug the buggy out of the cupboard, set it up and pumped up the tyres. I found the cosytoes in a wardrobe and between us we set the Nipper up for newborn babies. It felt very odd to wheel a fully-assembled yet devoid of babies buggy along. I was reminded why we chose the Nipper in the first place – it was so light and easy to push, turned on a sixpence, surprisingly narrow for a side-by-side buggy and had lots of places to shore bits and pieces (shopping and toys, mostly) and, in the red and black trim, pretty damn stylish. It had clearly been well-used. The hood was grubbier than I remembered, one of the straps on the cosytoes was broken (but easily fixable) and the raincover was a replacement for the first that fell apart far too quickly.

If the Nipper had a pedometer how many miles it would have covered since December 2007? I can’t even begin to imagine. When I was on maternity leave I took the girls out every day, either to the local shops or to the park. I later found out that I was probably doing at least four miles a day pushing two rapidly growing babies (plus paraphernalia) along some fairly hilly roads at times. No wonder I lost the baby weight relatively quickly! Even when I went back to work the buggy was in fairly constant use, particularly when the girls changed nurseries and it was easier to bundle them in the Nipper than try and walk two drunk-looking toddlers up the road.

We bumped into the Midwife on the way in and she was clearly delighted with the buggy. Dh gave her a quick demo of its features and an all-important lesson in how to fold it down and back up again. The woman gave birth to healthy boy/girl twins last week and they are already home. She doesn’t have a car so needs a really reliable, sturdy buggy, which the Nipper is. I hope she and the babies can get as much use out of it as we did.

The girls’ first trip in the buggy 21st December 2007

Their last buggy trip, 21st August 2010.

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Year Three – in which R and G became CHILDREN.

“I know from reading the stories of others that year three isn’t going to be magically easier. We’re going to have the terrible twos to deal with. There’s the frankly scary prospect of potty training. This time next year the girls will have abandoned their high chairs (that will probably happen quite soon) and in all probability, their buggies. We’ll have to think about turning their cotbeds from cots to beds. Their daytime nap will become a thing of the past (and will be greatly missed)”

Two days before the girls’ third birthday and I’m in a reflective mood. I wrote the above passage a year ago on the eve of their second birthday. If I were a box ticking kinda gal, I’d be feeling pretty pleased. Potty training? Completed by October (2yrs10m). Highchairs? Junked in January (2yrs1m). Buggies? Phased out over the Summer (2yrs7m-ish). Our Nipper Double and single Maclaren Volos sit forlornly in the cupboard under the stairs, gathering dust. I don’t quite feel ready to part with them yet. Moved into beds? Done in (ahem) December (2yrs11m), although, with bed guards we should have done it a year ago. Daytime nap? Sadly dropped in May (2ys5m) and much missed by both of us, although they sleep (touch wood) very well at night, generally.

I realised something a couple of weeks ago. Choosing to have a second (third, fourth, fifth, etc.) child isn’t just about providing a sibling or creating a larger family. It’s also an opportunity to make up for the mistakes you made first time round. When you have a baby it’s a bit like playing a new computer game. Level 1: pregnant. Ooh! Jump over the vomit! Don’t slip over on the ice with that bump! Level 2: newborn baby. You have to look after an infant while fighting off uzi-toting zombies hurling poo and food at you. The first time you play you’re crap – still trying to figure out the controls, wondering if that thing wonder towards you is going to give you a hug or kill you. Second time round, you actually know stuff. You know that three button clicks after killing the zombie with the machete you’ll find a pot of gold. There are things that we would do differently if we had more children but as we’ve decided that R and G are our one shot at this parenting thing, we’re not going to have the opportunity to put this theory into practice.

As for the ‘terrible twos’, closer inspection of the girls’ instruction manual (we have a poorly photocopied Welsh language version) reveals that they actually start when the child is two and  a half and usually last for a year, so that means we’re half-way through them. OHMYJESUSCHRISTGODONASTICK WHEN WILL THESE INFERNAL ‘PHASES’ EVER END? We had a tough time with R a couple of months ago (she still has her moments/breakdowns though) and are currently having a difficult time with G because she lives in Grace-world, which sounds like a lovely place but frequently clashes rather horribly with the real world, where she actually has to DO STUFF.

“I’m looking forward to having proper conversations with the girls. To explaining concepts and ideas to them. I’m even (god help me) looking forward to the interminable ‘WHYYYYYYYYY??’ questions”.

Ok, so this is quite fun and the conversations we have are hilarious but whenever R asks us to explain something, we’re treated to THE LOOK (a.k.a. The Ruthie Stare), which says “You are talking utter codswallop. That’s clearly not the answer. Why am I stuck with these imbeciles?” Last week I was asked where snow came from. I rooted through my brain and dredged up a bit of knowledge, which I imparted to R. She put her head on one side, gave me THE LOOK and replied “That’s WRONG Mummy”. I felt 6cms high. I asked her what the proper answer was. She didn’t know. I felt better.

So, year four. We’ve completed most of the milestone stuff now and the only outstanding thing is night training. I wasn’t ever very fussed about doing this before their 3rd birthday. The received wisdom is that most children aren’t ready until their fourth year to be fully night trained – you can try before that, but you’ll spend A LOT of time changing wet beds and I don’t know about you but I’m rather fond of sleep now I can have some – so I’m happy to follow the girls’ lead. G wakes up with a dry nappy roughly half of the week and R always wakes up with a wet nappy so there’s no rush.

I think the thing I’m really looking forward to is teaching them more stuff. I actually had a conversation with dh last night about teaching the girls to read. That’s pretty exciting. I want to take them on even more day trips. We might even think about going on a proper holiday.

Year One was physically and mentally exhausting. Year two was full of change. Year Three has been intellectually demanding on top of everything else, but it’s been my favourite so far. Let’s see what year Four brings.

Best buys list

I  have added a new sub page called Best buys, which does exactly as it says on the tin. It’s a list of the best purchases we made for the girls and babies and toddlers, accompanied by a short review and a link to buy the product, if still available.

When I was compiling it I was amazed at how things have moved on in the last couple of years. Many of the products we bought new have been revamped, re-styled or are simply no longer sold. In another year or two things will have moved on again, so it’s hard to keep up.

I’ve said it on the page but I’d better reiterate that the views expressed are very much my own and have not been ‘borrowed’ from anyone else. I also need to add that I am not affiliated to any of the companies or products reviewed and am not making any money (sadly…) from promoting them.

I hope you find them useful and if any readers have thoughts, additions or comments to make, let me know.