Day out:  Mother’s day 2017

I hope all the mum’s out there had a wonderful day….

We are very lucky to still have both our parents, so Mother’s day is spent with both families.  Only problem is that one set live near Central London and the other in Hertfordshire.

We left the house just after 10am on our hour drive to London to meet the first set of parents at their local Cote Brasserie for brunch.  

I had the Croissant complet (£6.95) which comes with a croissant, yoghurt pot, a small fruit salad and a pot of tea.  

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Okay, being completely honest I was skeptical at the price of the breakfast as I could have easily bought 4 croissants, 6 yoghurts, a punnet of strawberries, a pineapple and still had change…..

But, I was pleasantly surprised.  The ambience in the restaurant was relaxed and not to busy.  The croissant was warm and had a crisp crunch outer and warm buttery inner pastry.  The yoghurt was fruity and creamy.  I finished the the fruit salad which was refreshing.  The portion was just right.

Was it worth £6.95?  Not really, but once in awhile, it was a nice luxury to have.  

The tea was okay, which as you know is my poison.  It will do.

We then went to Regents Park to walk off our food and to let the boys play.

I can’t explain why, but I have always had an affinity with Regents Park and love going there.  

The cost of parking is astronomical, but it’s worth it just to walk around the beautiful gardens.  The boys love the playgrounds there.  

We left to go to one of, if not the best Patisserie in North London – Wilton Patisserie in Southgate.  

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Their cakes are sinful.  It will probably take me a month to work off the calories but I really don’t care.  

We took the cakes as an afternoon tea treat to the second set of parents in Hertfordshire.  

I had the creme brulee in the with a cup of tea.  The rest of the afternoon was pure heaven as I curled up on my sofa (I still consider my parents house to be my home!) and fell asleep for an hour or so.  

Now, I never ever sleep during the day, so for me this was pure luxury.

All in all a busy, tiring but lovely day.  

Teaching pre-schoolers reading, writing and simple maths at home

Should I?  Could I start teaching my twin boys at home before reception class?  

The answer was simple, it just felt like the right thing to do, for us.
One I had decided to go for it -in my panick of not having a clue what what to do, I contacted my local Kip McGrath and Kumon tutors.  They would only offer 15 mins a week for £25 each!  

I decided bankruptcy was not a good option, so, I had to teach them at home.  

I started simply with a pen and paper doing shapes.  It wad evident at 27 months that one son was advanced and able to draw stick people, faces and objects.  Whilst the older twin, struggled drawing a straight line, circle or cross

I worked with him on his fine motor skills using ‘finger gym’.  We played lego and really any toys which helped him develop his hand /eye co-ordination.

I bought them A3 sized writing books with shapes, numbers and basic letters. His younger brother finished the book, whilst the older one was still learning basic shapes.

I had to teach them together but at different paces.  

Eventually, we moved onto flash-cards (Riger Priddy, wipe clean activity flash cards) and wall-charts, which helped; but the easiest way was to bring the alphabet and numbers to life.

We looked for letters and numbers everywhere.  Their favourite is to read shop /road signs for letters and buses for numbers.  My boys now know ever bus route number from where we live and have learnt to recognise the destinations.

They practice writing the alphabet on the wipe-able flash cards, count numbers using real coins which they put in their money box and read books – Biff, Kip and Chipper are perfect for learning to read.

The boys love going to the library every few weeks and picking the next lot of books to read.

The boys are learning using Jolly Phonics but have now switched to Read Write Inc to match the local primary school (we are hoping they get into).

We are nearly finished witht the flash-cards and are now moving on to writing and reading basic words.

The wall charts in their room act as a reminder to them of what they have learnt so far, counting to 100, reading (letters and phonetic sounds) and writing all 42/44 sounds and basic words.

There is no secret to how it worked for us – every family is different.  But for us, we started with 5 mins most nights.  We now spend 1 hour every other day doing various learning – which we call “In the classroom” (the boys bedroom magically turns into a classroom).  

My boys do not know any different so to them this is normal.

It is not all work, we also go to various museums – Transport, Natural History and Roald Dahl museum are fantastic.

The boys also pick a topic and we explore it with them.  Current topics are – the human body, space /planets and dinosaurs.

For as long as they are willing to learn, I am willing to teach them.  YouTube is my best friend.

Travelling with twin toddlers tips…

My twins have done numerous long haul (11hr) flights and we recently flew to Lisbon on a short haul flight (<3hrs).

My trick for travelling with toddlers is plan, plan, plan and carry loads of food, spare clothes and activities

Tip 1:  Get to the airport early. Stressed parents = stressed toddlers. The likelihood of a tantrum (parent or child) increases immensely.

Tip 2:  Pay the extra for Meet & Greet – well worth the extra cost for the massively reduced hassle.  Look around as some travel companies / banks will offer an upgrade from airport parking to meet & greet for free! 

Tip 3:  Pre-order currency and collect at airport – nothing to do with toddlers, but gets you a better rate!

Tip 4:  Pay extra for premium lounge. Extra cost but children are free and the food alone will usually cover the fee. Again, hunt around you may get this for free! 

Tip 5:  Always plan for a delay.  Make sure you have exrra food, entertainment and clothes!!!

Tip 6: Pre- book car hire and check for childseat charges and make sure insurance as per your requirements is included already!

In summary, plan plan plan.  Start your holiday from the airport, come early to the airport so you are not rushing around and spend a bit extra (if you can afford it) to make your life easier!!! 

Please send me any tips you may have and I will add them to the list with a reference to your blog! 

Me v’s my Mum  – Happy Mother’s Day Maa xxx

I know there are still a few days until Mother’s Day, but it got me thinking…

This is my third mother’s day and my mum’s 40th.  So, I wondered –  What had she achieved at my age?  

By the time she was my age, she had just had her third child.  Three toddlers under the age of four.  She had also just lost her father and most of her family had left and emigrated to another country less than a year later. Leaving her, one sister and two brothers behind (13 siblings in total).
Only two years after that, she herself emigrated to a new country (away from her entire family) leaving everything she knew behind. She did not see them again for another 13 years.

She barely spoke the language of her new home but within a few years, she had taught herself English, worked and bought a house. She gave all her children an education beyond university level- including paying for professional qualifications. 

I only reference my mum as it is Mother’s Day, but all this was done with my dad too.

So, what have I achieved – qualified in the profession I chose, and promptly left to follow another career path.  Married with twin boys…in the same country where I had most my childhood…

Just realised, I am totally lame compared to my mum!  

There are real superheros in our everyday lives, I know and am lucky to appreciate mine – my Mum, Maa….Happy Mother’s Day…

I am everything because of her and she means everything to me.

My dream holiday….home

My dream holiday would be to go back home to the small town where I was born in East Africa. I have wanted to make the trip with my parents during their lifetime but I am not sure it will happen.

It has been 34 years since I came to the UK.  This year my dad has lived in the UK longer then he did in East Africa.  It makes me so sad to think of everyone and everything they had to leave behind. Their whole lives were there….

I want to see our old house, my dad’s shop, my grandparents house, pay my respects at my grandfather’s and great-grandparents graves.  

But, there are no direct flights there and to get to my home town is either – three flights or two flights and then a 24 hour train journey.  I am not sure my parents let alone 3 year old twins would manage the journey.

One day,  maybe we will be able to make the journey home.  If not then, this will be one of my biggest regrets.

Work, life, balance or balancing act?

I always knew I would go back to work after my twins were born, to pay the bills and for my sanity.  But I had no idea of the all engulfing guilt that I would feel.  

    If I am at home with the boys when they are sick or for any other reason during working hours, I feel guilty about missing work.  

    If I am at work, then I feel guilty that I am not with the boys.  The days they are with their grandparents (my mum and dad), I am green with envy about all I am missing.

    When I am home, I try and make up for the missed hours by trying to be the perfect mum (which does not exist), and working myself beyond the point of exhaustion.

    Matters finally came to ahead this Friday, after a week’s holiday spent nursing two sick boys.  Then a week back, trying to catch up at home and work.  I thought that I had just managed to just about do it all.  And then….they got ill again.

    I therefore gave in and asked the other half to order a take-away.  The request confused him, as the last take-away we had was on New Years Eve, but he quickly ordered it, just in case I changed my mind.

    I have achieved nothing that I planned to do this weekend and am utterly exhausted.  I will have to work most of tonight to make up for the work I am missing tomorrow.  Then on top of that, I will be up most the night with the sick little ones.

    All in all it has been a disaster of a weekend.

    But saying all that, whenever this happened before, and it does a lot – my house was a mess, the laundry pile was the size of Everest and there was no food or essentials in the house.

    Now, my golden rule of – never leave anything for the next day and have double of everything child-illness related, has truly saved me!

    My house is clean.  The fact that I had to do an additional three loads of laundry (on top of my usual 11 loads) did not throw me.  The last load is beeping now, waiting to go in the dryer.  And, my home-made frozen food will last us the next few days.  

    On the bright side, a few days of broken sleep will soon pass and at least I get to spend a precious extra hours with my little ones!

    I will post my daily / weekly routine if it helps anyone at all.  Or if anyone can think of any short-cuts, then all comments are welcome!!!