The wonder of it all..

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The world is such a massive and exciting place to the twins. Ever since they began to toddle about I have probably died from heart attack a thousand times over. I guess I just don’t understand what the fascination with climbing things is.. “hey look, that looks really high and unstable, yep I’m going to climb that!”

Seren as usual takes the lead in this particular activity. I swear that child has no fear whatsoever. Xavier is quite content to stay grounded and watch from the safety of the nice solid floor. I honestly think there is not an item in the house that Seren has not tried to scale  at some point in her now 3 years on this planet.

Jeanette is quite a laid back mother, she believes it’s natural for the twins to explore and learn. This I agree with, it is a stage of learning that all toddlers go through. Now times that exploration and curiosity by 2 and you have about as close to madness as you care to get.

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If you can climb it, Seren is all over it. Xavier loves to climb as well but has a somewhat more reserved and cautious approach. Seren as I mentioned has no fear, she is the boss, the leader… the FEARLESS one. “I was born 2 minutes before you.. chill I got this.” I know that 2 minutes is not a long time at all, but I am certain that those 2 minutes are going to haunt Xavier for the rest of his life. “I’m older, do what I say or I’m telling mum” I can just see it now.

Jeanette and I have now started taking the twins to a “Soft Play” center so that they may climb and explore to their hearts content without fear of injury or “heart attack.” I do just love just watching them play. You can almost see them working everything out in their little minds, all while screaming and running round like complete lunatics.

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It is amazing to watch them experience the wonder of it all in a safe and panic attack free area…

 

 

It’s been a little while…

It’s been almost 2 years since my last blog post. This means a few things have changed of course. Firstly the Twins (Seren & Xavier) have just had their 3rd birthday and have officially morphed into the “Twin Toddler Tornado” which is like the “Twin Tornado” from previous blog posts, but faster and smarter!

The second huge change (I’m happy to announce) is that Jeanette has taken on the role of Mrs. Stiles permanently and became my wife.

Now that things have started to return to their normal order I am finding more time to return to writing this blog. It seems like an age since I last sat at my computer and started pouring my thoughts and memories onto the keyboard. If I am honest I’m a little lost and not sure where to start.. I suppose the logical thing to do is start where I left off.

The Battlefield…

Any other parents reading this blog should be able to relate to the following scenario. The scenario I amply named the battlefield scenario. This is when you convert a room in your home (in my case this would be our dining room) into a “Play Room” or “Toy Room” it’s like drawing a line in the sand and saying “okay you keep your stuff on that side and we will keep our stuff on this side.” The battle lines have been drawn! The twins now have a room which is full of toys and games to play with and the room even has a flat screen TV an Xbox with NETFLIX and Jeanette even painted blackboards on the wall with special paint.  The trade off is that Jeanette and I have a living room that feels like a cool place for adults to relax, drink tea and watch soaps in peace (yeah right)!

Unfortunately the “Twin Tornado” quite happy and excited about this room full of toys still decided to breach the lines of battle by turning the living room into a minefield of Avengers toys, My little ponies and Cheesy Wotsits. Jeanette and I move through the living room like a couple of minesweepers clearing away all the toys and vacuuming up the aftermath of the twins lunch and daily snacks (Henry is always on Duty in this house).

It is awesome watching the twins develop their own interests and take a liking to different things, it’s great to see this individuality in them knowing that they are so alike. On the downside these differences turn into screaming matches and hair pulling and face poking battles. Seren wants to watch My Little Pony, but Xavier wants to watch Power Rangers. This kind of disruption among the ranks can cause quite a stir.I do often wonder if the twins were born identical (same sex) if we’d have half as many battles as we do in the house… The war however, rages on.

 

Not enough time in the day..

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It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post, sometimes life just takes over and the less important things (the hobbies/interests) take a back seat, but.. I’m back.. well for now at least. So where were we?

I was taking you through the early stages of being a dad to twins and all the joys that comes with it. I’m gonna take this opportunity to fast forward a little. The twins are now 18 months old and are now collectively known as “the twin whirlwind” 🙂

I’ve never seen or heard of an entity that can enter a room and turn it upside down in a matter of seconds. Somehow, the twins manage this in record time. Seren is very much the ring leader and Xavier has no problem just following her lead. It’s like they communicate and plan the destruction in their own little squeaks and giggles.

As much as it can be frustrating it can also be quite amazing. I often find myself wondering if they are actually planning these random attacks on the living room.. “Hey u go wipe your jam sandwich on the flat screen, while I go assault the DVD shelf.. dad will never be able to stop us both in time!”

These small tactical assaults have triggered the need to set up defenses. The fireplace had to be dismantled and removed, the TV still suffers sticky handprints so we have doubled up on flat screen cleaner and soft rags. The carpet becomes a minefield littered with “wotsits” and “hot wheels”.. Henry (our Hoover that is actually a Henry) makes regular patrols rounding up rogue wotsits and Sandwich crusts..

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As the war rages on.. I’ll do my best to report regularly from the battlefield..

Twins were not on the menu..

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Watching the twins develop in the first 6-8 months was a real eye opener, little pink and blue bundles of joy. To be honest it was joyful to hold them and rock them to sleep, to ramble to them even though you know they have no clue what you are saying. Their little blue eyes fixated on you, giving you that knowing look.. yes dad, we are listening. There is a moment for most dads when you look back and silently say “no matter what, I’ll always be here” it’s a real moment of self discovery. Men feel the need to be macho, to be “The Man” and sadly a good portion of the male species see raising a child as the woman’s job. Talking from experience, being a dad is the most exhausting, emotional, and most full on, full-time job you can have.. That’s pretty macho in itself, it tests your resolve, your patient, your wits and your ability to be a guardian, a real super hero.

I don’t have a cape or a cool utility belt, but there isn’t much I wouldn’t do to make sure my kids see me as a positive Role-Model in their lives. I am not a saint, I’ve made my mistakes over the years and I guess in a sense you can say my kids saved me, probably more than once. It’s easy to sit here and type a bunch of BS and make myself look like father of the year, but in all honesty I’m not perfect. Like you, I get run down, my energy drains, my emotional resolve deteriorates with sleepless nights and early mornings, but somehow we just do it, day in day out, we keep on truckin’

I learned everything I know about being a father, from my mother. She was the disciplinarian and the one to wipe away tears and provide reassurance, I suppose having 3 children and being a single mother leaves you little choice, especially when you have 2 nightmare sons and a baby daughter that needs a ton of attention. I stepped into the big brother role with ease, I loved having a little sister. I loved the way it made me feel older and bigger (for a 6 year old boy that’s a big deal). All these experiences are what molded me into the dad I am today.

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Twins were not on the menu, I had taken a step back from dating and was in the process of rebuilding my life. I crossed paths with Jeanette on a few occasions before I realized she was the girl I had known over 15 years ago. Jeanette had been married and divorced somewhere in those 15 years and she had done a lot of growing up. I had invited her out to lunch on Valentines day, so that we could catch up. Unfortunately she had made plans to be in Wales at her sister Marias that weekend. I thought to my myself “ok that’s smooth, just say no if you’re not interested”, before I could even finish the thought, she had said “We can do something when I get back” I was unprepared and took a minute to synch my brain with her response “ummm, yeah ok, cool” I could go on and on about Jeanette, but this blog is about the twins and myself as a father to twins. To cut a long story short, the girl I had known half my life was the girl I was supposed to be with all along. I’ve never felt the love of someone the way I feel it from Jeanette, and thats not just the physical side of love, it’s the emotional support, the strength and communication it takes to survive as a couple in these crazy days.. looks like twins are on the Menu again 😉

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Strap in.. it’s gonna be a long one.

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Bringing the twins home for the first time was both a relief and quite scary. By that I mean it was great to be out of the cold hospital ward and no longer having to sleep on a tiny bed with the itchiest blanket on earth. The scary part was the ever increasing pressure of ‘we have two brand new babies, babies are a lot of work.. we have two of them’. Thankfully we somehow just fell into a routine after the first few days and things seemed to go from ‘Holy Crap’ to ‘This isn’t too bad yanno’. I suffered many a sleepless night, but the funny thing was that the twins were brilliant, slept like little pink logs, it was the awe factor! it kept me up all night, every 20 minutes I was peering over into the cot and just staring in amazement, every little sniffle and cough sent me into sheer panic. It was at this point (as tired as she was), Jeanette was my super hero, reassuring me everything was fine. She was a natural nurturer, always seemed to know which baby needed what and when. I learned everything I know about being a twin dad from that woman. To this day I am still learning but it’s the twins doing the teaching now.

It only took a couple of weeks for the older kids to get used to the babies being around, once the twins were home and it was ‘real’ the kids didn’t seem to mind the amount of attention the twins needed from us, maybe the reality of the twins being so small and dependent had kicked in. Seren had begun to make her voice heard first, where as Xavier was very quiet and just seemed content no matter what. Jeanette had clocked on that we may have a little madam on our hands almost immediately (she was not wrong).

Watching the twins grow in the first few months was a real eye opener. Seren was quick to take to crawling, walking, screaming and climbing. Xavier on the other hand, took to army shuffling, butt skootin’ and laughing at everything Seren did. Don’t get me wrong he is just as tuned in as Seren, both are extremely smart and take everything in like little sponges. It amazes me that although they are twins, they are both very different yet the same! now how do you explain this? well I’ll give it a go.

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Both Seren and Xavier thrive on one another, although Seren exerts herself as supreme ruler of the house (cos she’s 2 minutes older), Xavier is happy to remain in her shadow and monitor everything. Both learn at an astounding rate, but their personalities seem to channel that knowledge in different ways. Seren is very forward thinking and always on the go! Crawling, Walking, Climbing within 4-6 months. Xavier watches Seren and just takes it all in.. The sheep to his big sister shepherd. We love them this way, we love that they are so alike yet so different, it’s the best of both worlds for us. Xavier is always going to be the baby, this much is clear and Seren is going to dominate as the big sister… as you follow this blog and I bring you up to current day to day activities and behaviors, you will see exactly what being a twin dad is like.. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world, you work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the entire year and the pay is CRAP! but the reward is unbeatable.

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I have to say a big thank you to my sister in law Maria for being such a great help, putting her own plans aside to make sure we got the twins home and that Jeanette and I had what we needed to start this chapter of our lives together. It really is a blessing to have real people that understand the real world on your side.

They’re NOT touching my stuff!

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That pretty much sums it up really, the bigger kids were excited but at the same time a little worried about the massive amount of attention the twins would demand from mum and I. This of course was expected, so we had laid the seed of calm early on by including the older children in the baby shopping, planning and house preparations (oh yeah fun!), they obviously showed little interest, Harry (aged 8 at the time), promptly stated “They’re NOT touching my stuff!”.. Denise (Aged 17 at the time) was nonchalant about the whole thing, and just gave it a typical teenage ‘Whatever kinda shrug’ however, as the time grew near for the twins arrival they seemed to warm to the idea. As big brother and big sister mode kicked in for the older two Jeanette’s youngest son Ashton (aged 6 at the time) seemed to struggle with the idea, after all he was the youngest.. the baby!

It’s fully understandable that there would be some friction between the new arrivals and Ashton, Jeanette and I just kind of let him deal with it (within reason) and kept reassuring him, that being a ‘Big Brother’ was an important job. The friction consisted mostly of tantrums and a lot of whinging, the intended outcome was to regain our attention, but honestly none of the kids lost our attention anyway.  As the older two lost interest after the first month, Ashton grew fond of the twins and eventually spent more time interacting with them than the bigger ones, they had gone back to Xbox’s and Hibernating in their bedrooms. Now.. let’s  not forget the addition of twins was a big change for Jeanette and I also, double feeds, sleepless nights (it’s rougher when you have two cos they take turns), double stinky butts and surround sound cries. Surprisingly somehow we always got told “wow! you two make this look so easy” – I’m quite sure we both looked haggered at the time, but in all fairness we just kind of fell into it, routines sort of formed themselves around the twins sleep and eat pattern. We are both stay at home parents so there was always four hands for changing butts, making bottles, rocking babies and giving one another those reassuring “we’ve got this babe” hugs.

While writing this blog, it has made me realize, we kinda did breeze through the last 18 months, we had our moments of course. We both suffered periods of sheer exhaustion and more than once pulled our emotions from the dregs of despair. We are parents, human parents.. we were not created perfect, but we were gifted something very close to it. It didn’t take us long to realize that no matter what we had to endure, the most important thing was continuing to love and support one another and remain a solid family unit. They say that twins change lives.. i’d have say in my case “twins strengthen them”

There is no expectation of reward for being a great dad, I get that everyday from all of my children with every scraped knee to every single smile.

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I can confirm.. you have 2 in there!

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Not exactly what we was expecting to hear at our 12 week scan.. bring on the rush of emotions, fear, joy, panic, shock and after about 15 minutes.. AWE!

It’s amazing the amount of emotions a person can experience in such a short span of time, the first thought being “how on earth are we going to afford this?” it’s funny how it all comes down to money at first, but rapidly turns into whatever it takes, we can do this. This is the day my heart grew a little bigger to make room for 2 brand new babies. Jeanette (my future wife and mother to the twins) immediately turns into a walking catalog “we need 2 of everything” panic ensues again.

That night at home we sat in silence just cuddled up with one another, every now and then saying “oh my god… TWINS” it’s fair to say it took a little while to sink in, but as the days passed and the reality settled in our scan dates couldn’t come quick enough, we wanted to see our little buggers and get to now them. Seren our little girl aka “Twin 1” as amply named by the doctor, showed signs of being the boss quite early on, as early as “this womb is mine, move over boy” Xavier aka “Twin 2” seemed very relaxed and just seemed to flit about in a real easy going kind of way. Well to put it in perspective Seren was very active rolling and tumbling all over and kicking Xavier in the butt, whereas Xavier just kinda chilled there and let her get on with it… these personality traits remain to this day 18 months later.. that in itself is amazing.

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Jeanette had quite an easy pregnancy considering she was carrying twins, she did suffer from a period of sickness and her emotions were a mess at times but her appetite never wavered, downing hand fulls of cinema popcorn covered in Nacho Cheese! “this is going to ruin my slimming world diet”, in the words of a reassuring partner “you are pregnant babe! you’re eating for 3.. don’t think that’s in the slimming world handbook”

There is just something comforting about cuddling a pregnant belly, although Jeanette was uncomfortable at times and had a hard time sleeping at first, she never complained when I was pawing her bump all night long. I found myself poking and prodding trying to figure out which was which (as they used to switch sides.. well until they ran out of growth space), “do you have to poke ’em?” she asked, “Yes! I wanna see which one is which”.. “you can poke em all night long and you’ll never know which is which” was her immediate response 🙂 Valid point, but it never put me off… poking continued, although it was more of a fascination then an actual quest to decipher which baby was where.

The next day we decided to see how the bigger children (his, hers and we were brewing ours.. well Jeanette was) felt about the new additions to our family unit… Let the games begin!!

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