Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Friend or foe?

I’ve just done my first extended time on my own with the babies. Young Daddy’s been away for a couple of nights on business so I’ve been flying solo. Not long ago this would have sent me into a complete panic, but Miss E and Mr A are just that bit older now, and I find them much easier to manage.

One of the most noticeable recent developments is the level of interaction between them, especially now they’re both mobile (yes, Mr A is now crawling too!). Miss E has got used to having the run of the place and now that Mr A can keep up with her, she’s not amused. I think he just wants to play, but she seems him as a pest.

They spent all day on Monday fighting. Miss E swiping at Mr A, him grabbing fistfuls of her hair and giving her a good shake, her biting him. I spent the whole day consoling one or the other and trying to play ref. It left me wondering if this was what my days would be like for the foreseeable future.
I woke up apprehensive yesterday, expecting more scrapping. But instead the babies seemed to relish each other’s company. They raced up and down the hallway in fits of giggles. They sat and played, catching each other’s eye and letting out a raucous chuckle. Instead of napping at lunchtime they stood opposite each other in their cots and chortled wildly. At the table after they’d finished their lunch, they just sat there laughing, at what I have no idea. I felt a bit of a gooseberry!

It’s given me an snapshot of the best and worst of being a twin. On the one hand, a readymade playmate, there to entertain and amuse and hopefully offer comfort when needed. Co-conspirator. On the other, someone to constantly invade your personal space, steal your toys and generally get on your nerves. Rival.

Any advice about how to encourage a positive sibling relationship from an early age, and to manage the situation when it does kick off, would be very gratefully received….

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Building my nest at last

The twins are now nearly ten months and the nesting instinct has suddenly kicked in in a BIG way.

I did worry about getting the house ready for the babies, but when I really wanted to nest, I’d got so big and uncomfortable I couldn’t do much. Five minutes of cleaning left me struggling for breath with my whole body starting to ache. I had a few unwise sessions up a step ladder painting our spare bedroom, but quickly realised it wasn’t a great idea.

When we moved into our house two and half years ago, it had been rented out for nearly thirty years and was in a sorry state. By the time Miss E and Mr A arrived we’d done the big stuff. Bathroom, tick. Kitchen, tick. Nursery, tick. But there was still plenty to be done. We innocently thought that Young Daddy could do some of the jobs on his extended paternity leave (he had nine weeks off work). I laugh at our naivety now.

We’ve managed bits and bobs over the last ten months, but have been somewhat distracted. When Young Daddy is around I don’t want him to be absorbed in some DIY project, I want him to get stuck in with the babies, so the renovations have gone on the back-burner.

But recently the shock of having two new babies is wearing off and the fog is lifting. I’m turning my interiors-trained eye to my home and all those unfinished jobs are suddenly screaming out to be done. We finally got carpet laid on the hall, stairs and landing this week after two years of bare, untreated, nail-ridden floorboards. We’re turning this house into a home.

Only now my motives are all different. Now every decision I make is about making a home for my family, not for myself. I’m picturing Miss E and Mr A as they grow up, and how they’ll use the space. Coming home from school and dumping all their stuff in the hallway. I’m painting the banisters imagining them peering through them on Christmas Eve, looking down at the fairy lights below. I picture games of hide and seek. Putting on plays.

And I can’t wait to create a place for them to grow.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The funny thing is...

Eek, I've been nominated as Best Funny Mummy for the Gurgle Blog awards! Now I really don't think of myself as funny, and now I feel under pressure to make you chuckle. You can't normally shut me up but I am definitely stuck for words! There are some fantastic blogs on the Gurgle shortlist so head over and check them out. I promise you, they're all a lot funnier than mine..

As I can't come up with any funny words right now, I thought I'd do what I'm best at and share some funny baby pictures with you, snapped on my Blackberry over the last nine and half months....

Two mischief-makers

Mr A doesn't much like the smell of Miss E's nappy

Plotting mummy's demise

The latest It bag

No-one gets in Miss E's way

Mr A practises for sleeping soldiers

The Great Sock Thief and Santa's rudeboy

Miss E's monobrow

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Cybermummy's takeaway service

When I saw a tweet from the Cybermummy organisers asking for people to live-blog from Cybermummy, the upcoming conference for UK parent bloggers, I volunteered without hesitation. I've been lucky enough to be sponsored by Huggies to attend the event, but for the many bloggers out there who can't make it for whatever reason, the Cybermummy team have put together the Cybermummy 5. This is a crack team of five bloggers who'll each live-blog from one session at the conference, ensuring that anyone who reads our blogs can benefit from the amazing speakers Cybermummy is bringing together.

For those of you who, like me, have never heard of live-blogging before now, it means that I'll be writing about my assigned session, CyberLabs at 2pm on July 3, as it happens. I'll be publishing a series of posts, recording the session in real time. The session is split into two parts - SEO Basics and Twitter tips with Charlotte Smith from Glam Media, and Blog to book, tips for writing your book from Robin Harvie, Harper Collins.

As a mum of twins, I reckon I'm a multi-tasking pro. I can be feeding Mr A a bottle with one hand, while reading a book with Miss E with the other, and tweeting with my toes (ok, so I haven't quite mastered that last one yet). And I'm most definitely going to need my multi-tasking skills when I'm trying to concentrate on the session while writing and publishing posts at the same time. It'll be a challenge, but luckily I like challenges so can't wait to throw myself in at the deep end... though I might need to skip the coffee at the break after the session and reward myself with something a bit stronger.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Time for a break. Time to log off for a little while. Hopefully just a couple of days but maybe for longer, we'll see. Real life is calling, or rather, hollering in my ear. The house is the most chaotic it's ever been, I've run out of food for the babies, the cats need fleaing and are running wild and this morning I have not a single clean item of clothing to wear thanks to prioritising everyone else's washing for the last week or so.

But all those things are just the tip of the iceberg. There are big things that have been ignored for too long and now need serious and urgent thought and attention. Big, important life-changing things that can't be put off any longer.

So I'm going to bid the blogosphere and Twitter goodbye for a bit so I can bring things back into focus.

Wish me luck. See you soon....

Friday, 18 June 2010

Nine and a half months

I've been a bit slack and missed my monthly round-up when the babies turned nine months the other week. So here it is, better late than never....

Mr A loves his face being tickled, or being tickled under his chin. He loves being carried up or down the stairs and thinks it's hilarious. He likes to blow raspberries on the floor. He has six teeth now - three on the bottom and three on the top. He splashes like a madman in the bath. He loves to bite my finger, but it hurts now that he has teeth. He loves his door bouncer - throwing himself around regardless of how many times his head hits the doorframe. He always wants to stand and likes me to walk with him. He is crawling, commando style. It takes quite some effort but he can travel across the room. He likes to touch our tongues and gets a fit of giggles if you waggle your tongue at him. He chatters and screeches and blows violent raspberries. He doesn't like being made to wait for his food. He doesn't like the sound of the tap running. He hates the noise of the hand blender.

Miss E is a proficient crawler, whizzing around rooms, sandpits and parks. She loves to pull herself up to standing whenever possible and stands at the stairgate waiting for me. She greets me with a huge beaming smile in the mornings, and stands up in her cot to say hello. She can feed herself with a spoon if you hand it to her. She has six teeth, two on the bottom and four up top. She likes to make a clicking noise, and thinks it's brilliant if you echo her. She loves to chase the cats, but rarely catches them. She loves me blowing on her face. She likes to offer me a bite of whatever she's eating. She is trying to wave and clap her hands. She loves cuddles. After her bedtime bottle she will snuggle into my shoulder and fall asleep. She loves to see herself in the mirror. She hates her nose being wiped and any clothes being pulled over her head.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Sometimes it gets on top of you.

Sometimes you feel invisible.

Sometimes you feel smothered.

But you'll always be there to support.

Always there to make them feel safe.

Always helping them grow and climb.

Always their rock.

Their mother, always.

 This post is for The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers. This week's theme is 'Motherhood'.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The school of Cybermummy

It's like getting ready for the first day of school. I wish there was a bloggers uniform, because that would make things easier. Instead I'll be spending the next two weeks trying to decide what to wear.

I must make a note to book myself my back-to-school haircut, as my hair hasn't been anywhere near a hairdresser for nearly ten months - my last trim was the day before my c-section.

I'll definitely need a new notepad and pen, that goes without saying. Oh how I love stationery. A new handbag's probably out of the question but I'll admit it, I'm tempted. Getting a new school bag was always one of the best things about the new school year.

Will I make friends? Who'll sit next to me at lunch? Will I keep up in my lessons?

All these questions and more will be answered on the 3 July when I'll be attending Cybermummy, the UK's first parent blogging conference, to be held in London. A massive thanks again to Huggies for sponsoring me.

If you're going, here's a picture of me so if you see me there, please come and say hello. Hopefully you'll still be able to recognise me without two babies in my arms, because I'm afraid Miss E and Mr A will not be attending the conference, sorry.

And here's a quick bio, for Mummy's Shoes Cybermummy Meet and Greet..
Name: Heather
Blog: Young & Younger
Started blogging: November 2009
Twitter ID: @YoungMummyUk
Height: 5'8
Hair: Long and brown with a wonky, self-cut fringe
Eyes: Hazel (may or may not be wearing glasses - TBC)

Do your children bring out the best or the worst in you?

It's been fascinating watching the effect having children has had on my friends. Some step up, their best qualities shining through the sleep deprivation, frustration and abject terror at becoming a parent. For others, those character traits that you have always managed to overlook - like selfishness, an unwillingness to listen, a tendency to be judgemental - take over and swamp their redeeming features.

One set of friends' rampant materialism is suddenly much more noticeable and unappealing now they're ploughing all their energy into buying the lastest bells-and-whistles accessory, toy or gadget for their little one, while we're struggling to find the money for the mortgage each month.

The competitive streak that has always been in the background of our friendship with another couple can't be so easily laughed off when we're faced with a barrage of, 'how many teeth do they have', 'how much do they weigh', 'what sized clothes are they wearing' questions.

The attitudes of our male friends have most surprised us. Some approach fatherhood with a delight and enthusiasm that is a real pleasure to see. But others see their sole role of father as a provider for their family. They work long hours, go to the pub for a drink after work and enjoy lie-ins at the weekends, completely oblivious to the fact that their girlfriend or wife may be in need of a break too, or that their baby might actually want to spend some time with their daddy. I've found the stereotypical gender roles and lack of appreciation for how hard it is to be a stay-at-home-parent to be one of the most difficult things to come to terms with and it's made me so angry with some friends, we've had to stop seeing them for a while.

And I guess this will  just keep changing as our babies grow older. I imagine that how you choose to discipline your children when they reach the appropriate age will bring out differences once again.

So has having babies made me a better person? I like to think that my positive traits dominate my personality - my loyalty to close friends, my sense of fun, and my determination. I have definitely learned to be more flexible, more patient, and to let go of my need for control. But I do have a tendency to envy others, and the force of this can often turn into bitter resentment. Having the babies has brought this back to the surface, though I'm more aware of it now so am getting better at managing it.

Has having children brought out the best or the worst in you? Have friends changed for the better or worse? How have you coped with this?

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Summer loving

We pull up to a collection of picturesque villas, nestled in amongst the olive trees. We're relieved to have survived the hair-raising taxi journey over the Cretan mountains, eyes squeezed shut as our driver took swigs from a can of lager mounted to his dashboard while negotiating the hairpin turns on the narrow road. My brother and I heave our heavy suitcases out of the boot and Mum and Dad sort out the keys to the villa.

We're getting our stuff together when a friendly guy, about my parents' age, with a charming Northern accent pops out of the adjacent villas and invites us over for a welcome drink. Being the sociable types we are (and we're from Croydon so we don't turn down a free drink), we gratefully accept his offer, dump our bags, and head on over. When we arrive we're introduced to the family - his lovely wife, two sons (one around my age, one younger), his daughter and her boyfriend.

Now I'm eighteen, so obviously the older son and I don't really communicate, but I definitely notice him in his battered New York Yankees baseball cap. The whole family have brilliant Geordie accents and seem like a good laugh. This family holiday (a last resort after I failed to get myself organised to do anything else) is actually looking up.

It's a few days later and the holiday's going well. I'm spending most of my time swanning around in a bikini and sarong, pretending to be oblivious to the admiring looks I believe I may be receiving from Boy Next Door. We've exchanged a few words now, sat outside having a nightcap with the others before bed. There's definitely chemistry. I blush when our eyes meet, though luckily the sunburn tan doesn't make it too obvious. One evening, after the parents have retired to bed, boy next door, his little brother, my little brother and I all decide to head down to the beach to have a paddle.

Little did we know... (August 1998)

The little brothers are at an age where they are incapabe of making conversation so after the paddle, they leave Boy Next Door and I chatting and go off to skim stones. Eventually they bore of this activity and decide to head back to their respective villas. Boy Next Door and I are alone at last. We talk and talk (and paddle) and talk until the sun starts to come up. Nothing's happened, so on the walk back to the villas I feign a stumble and he grabs my hand to steady me. And he doesn't let go. At the top of the path we stop to marvel at the beautiful starry sky and finally share our first kiss.

The next day I decline my parents' offer of a daytrip to the other side of the island and spend the day with Boy Next Door. It's the last day of his holiday, while we have another week to go. My family are out for the evening too, so I go for dinner with the Boy Next Door's family - a delicious meal of Greek gyros pittas, and then we split off from the rest to head to a bar for a drink. He buys me a huge tumbler of Baileys on ice, and we watch the world go by.

We take a detour on our walk back to the villas, heading back down to the beach to chat again until dawn.

The next day, Boy Next Door popped round to my villa and we exchanged email addresses before he left. The rest of my holiday dragged, and the second I walked through the door back home in Croydon I rushed upstairs to log onto the family computer to check my emails, fully expecting an empty inbox. But Boy Next Door didn't disappoint.

Eight years later we headed down the aisle. Eleven years after that fateful holiday to Crete, Miss E and Mr A joined us. And all thanks to my now father-in-law for inviting us in for a drink. Cheers Graham!

Mr & Mrs (December 2006)

This post was written for this week's Writing Workshop at Sleep is for the Weak. I chose prompt 1 'Have you ever had a holiday romance?'

Monday, 7 June 2010

Separation anxiety

I started feeling anxious on Friday. The day started well, with beautiful sunshine, but headed downhill at an alarming rate after Mr A completely refused to have a lunchtime nap. I got both babies up, and we played for a while before all hell broke loose and they both screamed at me hysterically while I desperately tried to get everything ready for a walk to the park. They got themselves so distressed that by the time I'd got them into the pushchair and out the door I was shaking and tearful. It took me straight back to the dark dark early days when I would have to feed one baby while the other screamed.

The anxiety didn't let off, because I knew that I was leaving on Saturday after breakfast, to join some very good friends on a hen do in Sherwood Forest Centre Parcs (complete with night on the town in Nottingham), and wouldn't be back until Sunday afternoon. It would be the first time I'd ever left the babies for so long, and the first time I would leave them overnight. Young Daddy was waiting to take over the reins. He had been feeling excited about the challenge but was getting more nervous as the date crept closer and closer.

Saturday morning arrived and I wasn't only feeling anxious, I was feeling really emotional. This really took me by surprise. I've been dreaming of a night off for so long, and yet there I was, desperate to stay at home. By the time I got myself in the car, tears were streaming down my face and I could hardly breathe. I popped on the Glee soundtrack for a good singalong and tried not to let myself get too stressed about the traffic and roadworks. My journey took five hours, instead of the expected three.

Of course I had an absolutely fantastic time when I was there. I loved hanging out with my friends, getting myself dolled up, and having a night out. And I was there, on that dancefloor, right until our taxi arrived at 2am to take us back to Centre Parcs!

As I suspected it might, the homing instinct (and luckily not a hangover) kicked in strongly when I woke up on Sunday morning. I just wanted to get home. While most of my friends were still sleeping it off, I set off on my return journey. I missed those babies so much my chest ached. And that ache just got stronger and stronger, the closer I got to home. The roads seemed to conspire against me and time went into go-slow mode.When I finally turned into my street I couldn't park the car fast enough, jumped out and ran into the house.

The emotions I felt leaving them for such a short time have come as a shock. I've been imagining that leaving the babies at nursery when I start back at work won't be a problem. But I think I've underestimated my intense bond with them. That doesn't mean I'm thinking twice about going back - I can't wait to head back to the office - but I now know that I will need to prepare myself for how hard it's going to be to wave goodbye to my babies on my first day back.

Friday, 4 June 2010

A MAD party political broadcast #2

It was Miss E's turn to hit the campaign trail today...

Vote Young & Younger for Best MAD Baby Blogger in the Butlins MAD Blog Awards 2010! Head over there now to place your vote.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

A MAD party political broadcast #1

Mr A asked me to pass on this message....

"I'm a baby, and my mum is a blogger, so together we make a baby blog. I reckon my mum's the best baby blogger around because she makes me smile, she makes a mean vegetable puree, she takes care of me when I'm poorly, she takes me to amazing places and she makes me look really cute in all my baby pictures. So if she'd hurry up and buy me my own laptop, I'd definitely vote for her to win Best Baby Blogger in the Butlins MAD Blog Awards before voting ends on Sunday."

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A new addition to the family

No I'm not pregnant! You don't think I'm that crazy, do you?!

This morning I went in to get the babies dressed after their morning nap. I got out an outfit for each of them and popped Mr A onto the changing unit and started getting him dressed while I chatted away to them both. Then I glanced down and realised I'd managed to put him in Miss E's dress. A sign I need a day off do you think?!

We got an exciting delivery today. The lovely people at Phil & Ted's have supplied me with a rather handsome Dash inline pushchair to review. When the news had sunk in that I was expecting twins, what pushchair I was going to buy was one of the main things that occupied my thoughts (focusing on practical matters was far preferable to facing the fear of becoming a twin mum!). TAMBA (Twins And Multiple Births Association) publish a fantastic pushchair guide each year, and I stalked the messageboard on the TAMBA website for pushchair recommendations. I opted for an Out 'N' About Nipper 360 Double, which is fantastic apart from the fact it doesn't fit through the doors of many of my local shops and cafes.

Our brand-spanking-new Phil & Ted's Dash

So I thought some reviews of twin pushchairs available on the market would be a useful addition to my blog, so a full review of the Dash will follow in due course. Today was mostly spent assembling it - a vlog is on its way showing me in action!

Are there any situations you'd like me to try to pushchair out in? Any particular issues you'd like me to address?

Voting for the Butlins MAD Blog Awards closes June 6th, so if you haven't already voted head over there now to place your vote. I'm up for the Best Baby Blogger, if you can't decide who to vote for!


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