Mothering Sunday

Dh-less this weekend, I didn’t get a lie in (unless 7.15am counts as one) and I cooked a Sunday roast for my Mum and Dad who came down for the day.

R and G followed Dh’s strict instructions to the letter and located the gifts and cards that had been squirrelled away for me. I got a lovely new bathrobe and this:

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I’ll be requesting my lie-in next weekend.

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Batshit teapot

My sister J is a bit fabulous: tall, well-dressed, gorgeous, well-educated with high-powered important job and extremely well-travelled. In short, if she wasn’t so darned lovely I would be terribly, terribly jealous of her. Who am I kidding? I am terribly terribly jealous of her.

She also buys us brilliant presents. For example, for Christmas this year she bought me a months’ membership to Pinapple Dance Studios so that I could fulfill my ambition to have tap dancing lessons. For my birthday she bought me a Radley handbag.

I find her very difficult to buy for and just before Christmas, I was really struggling. We’d had some family photos done so I’d created a calendar featuring some of the best photos, a collage poster print of all of the photos and a couple of smaller presents. However, I really needed to get her something else. Something meaningful. Something lovely. Something that would always remind her of us.

I had a brainwave. There is a ceramic cafe in Greenwich called Biscuit so I thought I would take the girls there so they could paint a teapot for her. J loves tea. She loves tea even more than  salsa dancing and the Essex cricket team put together.

It all started well:

G and R with the unsullied teapot

It was all going well until they started painting….I think my mistake was allowing them to paint the same object at the same time.The idea was that they would do a side each, but they kept blobbing paint on the bits the other one had already painted changing their minds about what they wanted to paint.

I offered to paint the lid. My hand was batted away with a (loaded) paintbrush.

After an hour the girls declared that they were finished:

To keep you on your toes, they swapped seats half-way through.

Shall we see the full horror close-up? Brace yourselves…

It looks insane doesn’t it?

I took the teapot up to the counter so that they could take it away for glazing and the staff struggled to stifle their giggles. I knew it woudln’t be ready in time for Christmas so I had the photos developed and popped them in an envelope with the rest of J’s presents so tell the ‘story’ of the teapot.

Ten days later…I remembered that we needed to collect the finished article. I was too embarrassed busy to pick it up myself so I sent Dh.

Here is Batshit Teapot in its full, glazed glory:

J is coming over tomorrow to collect it. There’s only so many times I can say sorry…

 

4th Birthday Party

Every year, just before the girls’ birthday, I get Party Fear. I fret that no-one will turn up, our car will break down, everyone will be ill and it will just be horrid. It’s utterly ridiculous. You think I would have learnt my lesson by now. Every year I have Party Fear. I’m wrong. I’m always wrong.

R and G had their party today and I can safely say that it was BRILLIANT. Everyone turned up that had RSVPd (apart from one family of four and we got a late RSVP from someone else so it kind-of worked out ok) and there were no dramas on the day.

The venue was perfect – heck, we’ve been there enough for other parties this year so we knew it was a winner –  the children are old enough to chuck themselves around soft play with minimal help* so the parents can chat and everyone goes home fed, watered, tired and happy.

My attempts to induct everyone into The Ways of Twins this year by turning up at each party with a card and present from R and a card and present from G worked and everyone very kindly came along with separate cards and presents from the girls. This hasn’t always been the case…

The girls had a cake each – R had Hello Kitty and G Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – and everyone sang twice, because I’m mean like that. It’s another of my The Ways of Twins things. Everyone’s used to me now.

Once again we are totally bowled over by the generosity of the girls’ friends (and their parents), who gave their time to come to the party and clearly made tremendous efforts to buy incredibly lovely presents. Every present the girls opened (we were going to try and get them to open a couple a day over the next week or so, but once they’d opened a couple they didn’t want to stop) was fantastic and amazingly there were no duplicates, aside from a game that they already had. I have made a note of everything that everyone bought so that I can make thank-you cards…

The really nice thing is that this is only (ONLY!) part 1 of 3 for the girls’ 4th birthday celebrations. Next Sunday we’re all out for a meal with my family and all four of us have the day off next Monday (their actual birthday) so that we can enjoy it as a family.

They’re only going to be 4 once (and this is the only year that Dh can use his Fork ‘Andles jokes, which aren’t getting old AT ALL) and next year they’ll be at school (argh)….

*I chucked myself around it as well. It was GREAT.

Life on fast-forward

What happened to December? I mean, where did it go? At the end of November it snowed and then December went WHIZZZZZZZZZZZZZ and now it’s January.

A quick recap.

The girls’ 3rd Birthday was their best yet. They really seemed to ‘get’ the concept of it this year – or at least the concept of presents, cards and a party. We gave them a dolls house – sorry, as dh tells everyone – a dolls mansion and lots of nice clothes. I always say it but every year I’m taken aback by the phenomenal generosity of our family and friends. The girls had so many presents and cards to open that we saved some for the following day. Their party went really well and they and their friends seemed to understand the idea of pass the parcel, with some gentle guidance. Dh was convinced that party games would be pointless. Au contraire my dear. There was lots of food. There was cake. There was cava. Everyone had a lovely time. My parents were pressganged (by me) into sorting out drinks and did a sterling job. Dh and I collapsed on the sofa when the girls were in bed, everyone had gone home and the house was vaguely tidy and allowed ourselves a small, stiff-upper-lip sort-of pat on the back.

There was a lot of snow. I don’t remember getting that much snow when I was a child. In the girls’ short lives they have seen more of the white stuff than we have probably seen in the last twenty years. Normally I’m a big fan of snow but the two occasions we got it – end of November/beginning of December and the weekend before Christmas – were really debilitating. Plans had to be cancelled or re-arranged. Nursery was closed. I missed a conference. My friends with children were posting up pictures of their offspring frolicking in the snow and I was indoors with one child (R) that liked the idea of snow but didn’t like getting cold and one (G) that refused point blank to even entertain the idea of venturing outside. Luckily the birthday and Christmas plans were unaffected.

We were all ill. I was at my work Christmas lunch, glass of wine in hand when I got an SOS call from nursery. The girls had temperatures of 102F and needed to be picked up. Luckily dh was at home and primed for such an event. He picked up two rather sorry specimens (R suffers when she’s ill) who perked up considerably once they were at home curled up on the sofa with Daddy watching Peppa Pig. I could have stayed out but felt so guilty and neglectful that I abandoned my glass of pinot grigio and dashed home to tend to my flock. Good job I did. Dh went down with the illness the next day and I spent the weekend nursing three rather grumpy patients. I was rather relieved to return to work on the Monday only to be struck down with the shivers. I spent most of the days leading up to Christmas in bed, alternating between the shivers and hot flushes. It was horrible. I felt a little better on Christmas Eve but didn’t really feel 100% until Boxing Day. Dh and the girls recovered pretty quickly.

Christmas was lovely, feeling mildly grotty aside. We hosted dh’s parents for three days (23rd – Boxing Day) and my parents (struggling with a virus themselves) joined us on Christmas Day. I cooked Christmas lunch and got lots of praise for my (home-made, in an attempt to prove my MPM credentials) Christmas Pudding. The girls loved it, although G freaked out a little bit on Christmas Eve because she was scared that Father Christmas would come through the ceiling in the night. Dh reassured her that FC would leave the presents outside and we would bring them in. We think her fears stem from the Christmas episode of Peppa Pig. Oh, the power of television! R tore through her presents (and some of G’s) like a tornado. They loved the wooden train set we gave them. I was pleased to see that they did well present-wise but none of us had gone OTT. I didn’t feel that they had been spoilt and there were no duplicate presents, thank goodness. The playroom looks like a toy shop though.

It was my 31st birthday. However, I’m now claiming that I’m 29. Dh and the girls took me out for lunch and I did a bit of retail therapy. I did very well with gifts and got lots of nice girly things for both Christmas and birthday: jewellery, perfume and lots of lovely gift vouchers and cards. I still don’t feel like a proper grown-up.

Dh and I both had the week after Christmas off work. It was a Christmas miracle. I always get the time between Christmas and New Year off but dh normally just gets Christmas Day and Boxing Day as leave. I don’t know what strings he pulled but it was lovely to have him around for an extra few days. We hosted a playdate with a couple of the girls’ friends from nursery. We both had a morning ‘off’ – I did Bluewater (I was a whirling dervish of shopping bags and hot chocolate) and the next day dh went to Lakeside for a spot of breakfast and a leisurely coffee. I’m very grumpy about the whole New Year extravaganza (I hate it) but dh and I played board games and had a couple of drinks and I made sure I was in bed by 11.30pm.

We took the girls to the cinema for the first time. The cinema near us does kids screenings on Saturday morning and on New Years Day they showed Toy Story 3. We were primed to watch the first half and leave when the girls got bored but they were transfixed for the duration of the film. I don’t think G actually blinked for two hours. Unfortunately they both had nightmares that night – of the shouting, sweating, scared variety – but they don’t seem traumatised by it.

We stupidly got the girls’ feet measured and G had gone up a whole size to 8.5 and R a half-size to 8. This meant new shoes for both (it was my turn to pay) and new wellies and trainers for G now and for R later. I always but things like wellies, sandals and trainers a size bigger than they need and I refuse to buy half-sized, so G is now in a 9 for everything but her fitted shoes. Luckily Mothercare had a sale on so I was able to stock up. We had to explain to R that her old trainers still fitted and that she couldn’t wear her new ones yet. She has consoled herself by wearing G’s old trainers and declaring them to be ‘new’. If it keeps her happy…

What else? Oh yes.

3-1 3-1 3-1 3-1 In Australia. Ashes. Cricket in case you’re wondering. My sister was there. I wasn’t jealous at all. Oh no. Look at what I would have missed if I had been!