It’s been awhile since I have blogged about the boys. Why?
Hmm…. let’s see… I’ve been quite busy pulling them off window handles, making sure they don’t fall off the fridge while monkey climbing them up, rescuing small items from the house that get stuffed behind radiators or chucked out windows…. etc. etc. etc….
But that’s just the physical stuff. A & Y can head the debate team in senior school.. like NOW… and perhaps write the speeches for our current UK politicians! or be caught scribbling I ‘heart’ graffiti all over the place! Awww….
Me (after asking A & Y to do something politely at least 4 times without any response): So how come you listen to Miss Jan and Mrs. Simon but when I speak you can’t hear me. Y: That’s because they are teachers and your are Mama!
2. Me: Please don’t move the beds like that… you could have hurt my feet. Both: But see mama, you didn’t get hurt!
3. A & Y wait till I switch off their bedroom lights as I walk out of their room. Y to A: A… look.. ‘she’s leaving… let’s go down!’
A to Y: Y… quick quick… ‘she’ is going to see us!
And so this is how it goes…. from morning to night… the party doesn’t stop… and ‘it shouldn’t’ said some philosopher or author of a good and bad parenting! Yah right!
Where have I been the last 2 months? This has been one of my best summers in a long while both, in London and in Los Angeles.
I had a slew of visitors in London prior to leaving with the boys to California in July and as I got to LA, the plethora of people we met and spent time with just left a lovely, warm glow in my heart and my memories.
This was also the first time I travelled alone with the boys – aged 3+. I was slightly (just!) apprehensive a whole month prior to the flight and tried to be organized and over organized with how and what to take on board with me, and what state of mind I should be in to make it through with the two.
Here is how I survived the journey with two lovely little boys and how they survived me!
Take the latest flight available to LA in my preferred airline – this time Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand offers the use of a ‘sky couch’ for an additional £60/head. This means that the 3-seater by the window turns in to a ‘sofa-cum-bed’ where each seat has a section at the foot that lifts up flush to the seat in the front. Once all 3 are lifted up – you have a bed. They also provide you with a ‘mattress’ cover and 2 big pillows in addition to the typical airline pillows and blankets.
Each of us had backpacks. I purchased a Kipling backpack as I knew a roller bag, a double stroller and two toddlers would be hard to manage. The boys had their own little backpacks.
Their backpack – 2 toys, stickers, 3 snacks, kids’ headphones
My backpack – extra clothes, pull-ups, more snacks, a backup homemade meal, 2 iPads.
I called the airline in advance to know of the ‘milk’ situation. They did not have whole milk and did not serve milk as a drink, so I bought milk at Boots once we were through security. NOTE: In America (not sure about other countries) you cannot carry milk through security for children over 2. On the return, I was too organized and the milk got confiscated. Lucky for me, the airline stewardess was amazing and helped me settle the boys and brought me 2 glasses of warm milk.
In-flight entertainment. This is great ‘after’ takeoff and once the ‘fasten seat belt’ light is switched off. Prior to that, the captain makes loads of announcements that ‘interrupt’ the entertainment. This did not bode well for my boys. So I quickly switched to the iPads and went back to the entertainment system later.
So the boys didn’t fall asleep as I planned, but they were not disruptive and the benefit of sleeping less on the flight helped us get through jet lag faster in LA, as they slept a long stretch at night.
We got to LA with all 3 of us happy and in good moods and were ready for the amazing holiday that was in store for us!
Since the boys have been born hubby and I have viewed a numerous number of nursery and primary schools. The very first one we viewed was when the boys were 4 months. 3 years later we are still at it.
The boys are currently in a very good nursery/pre-prep school in North London where they can potentially stay till they are 7 years old. However, at the age of 6, boys are to sit a ‘7+’ assessment to secure a place in a good junior school. This is all fine as long as there is an understanding between parents, primary and junior schools that the boys are only 6 and they should be evaluated based on their current abilities. It’s too early to determine their educational path and goals at this age and in all honesty they should not even have to be ‘assessed’. But that is our system in the UK and we accept it.
What I can’t come to terms with is the pressure that is put on the children to perform at this age (x 2 in my case where each boy has a different aptitude and interest) and that parents feel compelled to have their 6 year olds ‘tutored’ to give them a ‘competitive edge’.
Should they even be a competitive edge at this age? Should children have to undergo such pressure?
The parents who do not condone the idea of tutoring their children at this age are usually battling an internal guilt that they may be putting their children at a ‘disadvantage’.
The next option then is to have the boys sit for assessments at the ages of 3 or 4 which is done in a more relaxed and ‘playful’ way wherein the child is unaware that they are being ‘assessed’ and the parents are not on edge. So we then embark on a new set of school tours that have entry points at ages 4 & 5 and go through the age of 11, 13 or 18. This is not long after we have already been through the journey of selecting the ‘perfect’ nursery and primary school.
This is obviously the case in private schooling only and they are limited options of ‘non-selective’ schools that start at nursery or kindergarten and go straight through to senior schools/GCSEs.
On a lighter note, while on these school visits, we have been envisioning our 3 year olds fast-forward to the age of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 andthe real thrill has been the journey back (not that far back!) to when we were in similar classrooms, uniforms, activities which made us just want to enroll ourselves, rewind a few years and enjoy those innocent and playful years in a school environment until our boys are ready to begin that journey!
I am thoroughly enjoying this age and stage that the boys are in. Their sentences are so well-formed that every time they say something new, it throws me off guard. Most of the time I just burst out laughing at the things they come up with.
But what really makes my heart skip a beat is the dialogue between the two of them. Their life long bond and friendship is forming its early roots. ‘A’ loves to engage ‘Y’ in a game or an activity. He says his brother’s name with such love and earnesty. He makes ‘Y’ giggle a lot, and I just love the sound of both their voices. (That’s when they’re not pulling each other’s hair out!).
‘Y’ loves to play his guitar (his 3rd ukulele) and sing. He takes on the persona of ‘Toby’ – the singer who comes to their nursery every week. He picks a cushion, stool or chair while carrying his ‘guitar’ and finds a place in front of his audience. Most of the time it’s ‘A’. He sits, tunes his ‘guitar’ and says, ‘what song would you like today, A?’ And the two of them begin their duets of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’, ‘Wheels on the Bus’, ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ and ‘I can sing a Rainbow’. It just melts my heart.
Although ‘A’ likes to give his brother a whack some times or tug at his long hair (Y just had a crew cut yesterday), he exhibits generosity and compassion to him when needed. He won’t allow me to walk away from ‘Y’ when he has a tantrum or fusses about something.
And then they instigate each other to create mischief! They were sitting at the kitchen table this morning for breakfast and they remembered the carton of beer sitting below. ‘A’ randomly gets a mischievous glint in his eyes and says, ‘Y – let’s have beer’ and they both scrambled under the table and take a can each! – yes I caught them on time!
When one of them whines for hubby or me at bed time after they’re tucked in, the other one says really sweetly, ‘Mama is coming or Papa is coming’.
It’s all music to my ears and they are so blessed to have each other.
We were at Regents’ Park on Sunday morning for a kiddie football lesson. It was the first sunny and relatively warm day we have had in a while, so all four of us went.
A stunning day indeed, the boys were happy to be out running around and tumbling down the hill with their buddies. We had a mini picnic then proceeded to leave. Papa and little A went a head leaving little Y and me strolling down the path.
My little boy decided to really ssssttttttrrrrrrroooooollllllll and stopped several times to pick up the little yellow dandelions growing wild. He didn’t just pick them. He looked at them, analyzed them. Some were too big, some were too small, some he didn’t pick with the stem (which upset him) and some he did. But each dandelion that he was satisfied with was for each one of us while we discarded the other’s that didn’t make the cut (literally).
I was getting a little impatient at one point and then just stopped and observed him. He was paying attention to his environment. He noticed the yellow flowers. He noticed the differences. He realised they were pretty and wanted to pick one for all of us including himself. So pure, so natural, so beautiful, so innocent, so thoughtful.
It made me realise that I needed to see the world now through the boys’ eyes. I needed to stop. I needed to allow him his little curious spirit.
The beautiful lessons you learn through the clarity of a child’s eyes… it’s priceless.
3 Weeks of holidays for Easter, just few weeks after a 1 week ‘half-term’ break and just a few weeks before our next 1 week ‘half-term’ break. You’ve got to love the UK for all the holidays and breaks – lends to a great balanced family life… BUT also leads to huge breaks in routines for my boys who LOVE nursery and their nursery friends.
So, to minimise boredom, destruction, and madness on the double, these are the things we did to keep ourselves either out of trouble, and in some cases, ‘in trouble’! I also tried to follow the one-day-out, one-day-in rule so as not to exhaust them (and me!).
1. Cheti Chand. The break started off with our (Sindhi) ‘new-year’ festival, cheti chand, at our local temple. The boys enjoyed trying some our traditional food, watching a religious procession, bherano, that marks this particular occasion, getting their faces painted and listening to 2 slightly older boys with their teacher play the flute while messing around with one of their little girl friends. Y still asks to go back to the temple to get his ‘face painted’!.
2. Play dates with bum chums. We then had a series of play dates with their baby group & Sunday school friends either at a home, park or an indoor soft play area.
3. Body Painting. Y was slightly under the weather one day in the first week, so the boys decided to practice ‘body art’ with their felt pens all over their hands, legs, feet & nails. Rather proud of themselves saying, ‘mama, look, I’m an artist’. ‘Mama, can you draw me a tattoo like the one you have’. Great! I’m such a positive influence on the boys. I’m afraid of what they will ask for next!
4. Books & Puzzles. I opened a new box set of books and they have been enjoying being read to in the mornings, or doing puzzles with me. Since they recently had a birthday and I have hidden all the gifts, it was an opportunity for me to have them open a couple of them every few days.
5. Baking. A wanted to make a ‘banana cake’. So I hid a couple of bananas till they were really ripe and ready, and we set baking one morning making a wholemeal banana nut bread. The experience was fun as they enjoyed mashing, mixing and blending, and then singing ‘pat a cake, pat a cake……put it in the oven for baby and me’ while I put the tin loaf in the oven to bake!
6. Easter Egg Hunt. All this leading up to the ‘big’ day… Easter Sunday – for an Easter Egg Hunt. We planned this with another family whose son is the same age as Y & A. We went to the very well advertised EEH at the Kensington Roof Gardens. As this was free, you can imagine the queues and the number of families that showed up. As soon as the doors to the gardens opened, you could see the ‘chocolate eggs’ disappearing fast before our little ones could get to them. It was quite fun though and then came the Easter Bunny dancing and posing for photos with the children. The KRG is a must visit this summer for a drink or two. We were pleasantly surprised to see beautiful flamingos floating around.
7. Family Time. Some family time with my uncles, aunts and cousins who throughly indulge in Y & A with tons of attention and affection.
8. Paradise Wildlife Park. My aunt whom they refer to as ‘nani’ (maternal grandmother) treated us to a lovely day at Paradise Wildlife Park. It was a stunning day out and I have to admit feeling more like a child than the boys that day. I was so thrilled to see a white tiger, the zebras, the variety of tiny tamarins and species of the ape and monkey families, a snow leoopard, cheetah, red panda…. etc. The boys were distracted by the rides which I thought was a shame to have situated outside the wild life area but they too were quite impressed with the animals.
9. Four Seasons Hampshire. The 4 of us then went to the Four Seasons in Hampshire for a 4-day weekend. This was much desired by hubby and me as it was the perfect blend of retreat and entertaining the boys. Okay – so this is a real treat – a fair bit of indulgence but it had to be done, at least once. This particular property of the Four Seasons is very, very child friendly. The perks in short:
Kids Club: bright, spacious, has a variety of activities for toddlers up to ages 7/8 with 2 lovely playgrounds just outside. Ages 3+ can be dropped off in the hands of lovely Sitters. (who can also baby sit in your room at night). The kids club is included in the price.
Baby-Sitters: Qualified, experienced, and warm.
Kids Menu: Amazing variety of fresh food. Free for age 5 and under.
Kids Breakfast & Lunch Buffet: Also free for the above age group.
Pony riding: Ages 4+ (we did not do this for obvious reasons).
Chicken Shed: Just on the lawns. Children can also take the freshly laid eggs to be cooked by the chef for breakfast.
Indoor Swimming: You even get toddler sized robes and slippers to use!
And while you leave your children in the safety of the Kids Club… you can do just absolutely ANYTHING – like use the Spa, the Pool and Vitality Pool and the ‘Hot’ Rooms. The grounds are large and beautiful and great for a good hike which we did one morning.
10. Fun Fairs. We had one just around the corner so we took the boys on the bus and now A can’t stop saying, ‘mama, let’s go to the fun fair on the bus’.
11. Parks. We have been blessed with lots of sunny days and now even warmer ones. We are also blessed with a variety of well-equipped parks around us. It’s nice to go to a different one each time if you can.
As fun and beautiful as the 3 weeks have been… and now back to reality…
Do share your holiday experiences with us and any cool and fun activities you did with the kids this Easter.
When I was just a little girl my mother used to sing this song to me along with a few others like ‘You are my sunshine’.
Now I have children of my own and I started to sing ‘Que Sera Sera’ to them the other morning. ‘A’ loves languages and new songs so he was quite intrigued. When I got to ‘…will I be pretty…’ he said…’Mama, pretty like Katie!’.
I was taken back for a minute as I hadn’t met Katie and was surprised he made the association. ‘Pretty’ with ‘Katie’. :). (Katie is their friend in Mandarin class which hubby takes them too.)
My 3 year old boy knows ‘pretty’ and can already appropriately use the adjective! He’s already a little charmer… Sorry mums….look out for some innocent flirting from my little boy! Que Sera Sera…
And now from my head to yours….here’s Que Sera Sera…
A week long celebrations for our 3 year olds! I felt like I had planned an Indian wedding yesterday and literally just curled up for an afternoon nap while the boys were wondering what happened to me.
We have had 3 separate celebrations for them, and each one has been fun and special in their own way. The first one was with all their baby group friends and many of my friends’ children whom they know. We did this at GoKids, N20. I highly recommend this venue – on private hire – for a toddler’s birthday party. The team there know how to look after the hosts and the guests and we literally just had to show up.
Then on their actual birthday we had family over, which was very, very, intimate and special, and Y & A enjoyed all the attention, yes and the gifts, they each received. And wow! a 2nd birthday cake!
Yesterday we had their school friends over, who really are their ‘besties’ as they spend the entire week with them. This was a surprise party and boy they were so thrilled. I had SillyMillie, the entertainer, for them and all the kids really enjoyed her silliness!
All the celebrations aside, I wanted to share the sweet things they have said and done in the last week that actually signifies to me the transition from terrific two’s to even more terrific three’s!
1. While tucking A in to bed once night last week, I said, ‘Good night, God bless you, I love you,’ and right away he said, ‘I love you too!’. Unprompted. Just spontaneous.
2. Another night I tucked Y in and before I could wish him good night he said, ‘I love you’.
3. When the boys were younger, I used to sit on a folding stool and wash them in their tub and then gradually started to showered them. Now the stool is used to brush their teeth or do a wee. So last week while I was showering A, Y was on the stool brushing his teeth. As soon as he was done brushing his teeth he brought the stool over to me and said, ‘mama, here, I bring you the stool, sit on it’.
My two little charmers and surely turning in to little heart breakers. With all the craziness we go through…. NOTHING can make a mother’s heart feel so full and happy than these beautiful words and gestures. It makes everything so worth it!
The last few weeks have been an amazing and magical experience with the boys. They’ve properly embarked on the beautiful twin journey. Their bond is now so visible and their gestures and conversations with each other are sweet and hilarious at times.
When I have one or both of them in bed with me, when either one wakes up, he looks for the other and wants to wake this brother up. Whichever one it is, Y or A, he will say something that only they understand, in their twin code, and the other one just opens his eyes and smiles so wide and repeats the word…. and the day begins… with smiles, then giggles, and then later fights… 🙂
A couple of nights ago, Y went to sleep in the ‘island’ between the two beds, on the duvet that is considered ‘mama’s bed’. A wanted to sleep next to him and kept sliding in next to him and putting his arm around Y’s neck. Unfortunately for awhile it was too stimulating and so I had to separate them, but despite that, they still fell asleep next to each other with their arms around each other. So precious. Wish I had taken a photo.
Tonight, I had Y fall calm down while sleeping over me and then moved him to the ‘island’ while I went to A’s bed to settle him. When all 3 of us were silent, breathing softly in the dark, there was a soft voice:
Y: ‘A… where’s mama?’,
another soft voice responds….’Y… she’s here’
A: ‘With you A?’
Y: ‘Yes, mama’s here’
A: ‘With you? On top of you?’ (what he meant … are you sleeping on top of her?)
Y: ‘Yes, mama is here, up’ (mama is here on my bed)
A mellow excitement follows with Y, and then I threaten to leave the room.
A: ‘No wait mama…. I tell a story. There was a small boy at a bus stop… and he………………’
I was in a sweet shock and just stayed there listening to my almost 3-year-old make up a bed time story.
Just as he got done, I started to slip out of the room, and Y started…’and now I tell a story mama…. there was a boy…..’)
A sweet, sweet, blessed moment. May they keep continuing…. for me! and of course for each other….
Yup! It’s NOT always fun ‘n games as I sometimes like to think it is. (Well, who said fantasising is bad??)
At some point I had this sleep thing down. Almost 2 years ago, when the boys had turned 1, I employed the assistance of a sleep training clinic to help me sleep… ummmm…. indirectly. I hired them to ‘teach’ me how to train my babies to sleep through the night. 3 days… and I had it figured out and I had 2 sleeping beauties – well 4, as we finally could sleep a good 6-8 hours at a stretch! What a novelty that was.
As they say with children, or life in general, ‘it’s just a phase‘, ‘this too shall pass‘. Well… this ‘phase‘ we are currently in has been way tooooo long and it is NOT passing! A hasn’t slept through the night in about 10 months – yes – okay- once a week we get a reprieve. But my star sleeper Y was just amazing… head down, good night, and all smiles at 6:30a.m. Not any more unfortunately, since he had a throat infection over a month ago, he has taken to sleeping ‘on’ me. That’s all lovely and sweet and I would do that any time, but now, 5 weeks later, he’s still restless at night, and wants ‘only mama’. This too I can handle, but not when there’s 2 waking up a 30 mins pattern after each other for a stretch of 2 hours and somehow there’s 4 of us in our bed, and they both still want ‘only mama’.
There are nights I get them to sleep back in their beds, but that’s as long as I sleep on the duvet on the floor in between their beds! Y sometimes is so compassionate at night, he comes and sleeps with me on the floor and says, ‘mama, I share my blanket with you’. Awwww…. love you baby, but my legs are way longer than yours and somehow your blanket isn’t that long. Then in the 1 meter space between the beds, A decides he too needs to sleep with mama, and we’re all sandwiched together … Yes I know it’s sweet, and I know these days will never come back….:) 🙁 but for now, I’m a Zombie Mum.
When will this too pass? Is it a ‘phase’? Will I be moaning in a few years that my boys won’t sleep with me anymore?