Blackboard paint

So I bought blackboard paint and painted a big piece of one of the walls in our living room with it. When it was all dried and finished I explained to the boys that they could now write on this wall with their chalk. They were very happy with my surprise.
‘Wow,’ said the first. And he started scribbling on the wall.
‘Wow,’ said the second. And he walked to another wall and before I realised what happened he had scribbled some huge scratches on our normal walls.
Aaargh!

Gift ideas for 3 year olds

Children usually have a lot of toys already and with a birthday coming up, you usually don’t want to add to the existing pile. For me a birthday is great moment to get rid of some toys that they don’t use often anymore. Either by giving some toys away or selling some on a second hand place before they actually get so annoyed with it they break it. However, there is still the issue of ‘new toys’ because a birthday with no gifts to unwrap is not a real birthday. My family usually works with wish-lists that we make available a few weeks in advance, so people can buy something that your kid can actually use. This also avoids doubles (although with twins, some gifts have to come in doubles).

When our boys turned three I asked around a lot for good ideas and was very grateful with the input I got. So here is my list with suggestions for when your child has his or her third birthday. I am not going to list bicycles, tricycles or other vehicles to ride on as this is very individual, every child is different in his development and it what he likes. Instead I list some smaller gifts that are great to ask for.

  1. Books. This will always be my first choice. It’s really good for children to listen to stories being read aloud. Here are three books that we are currently reading that our boys really enjoy.

2. Marble run. This only works if your child is not putting little things in his mouth anymore, as the marbles are quite small. They are also not able to make it themselves yet, but if you build it together with them, they can play with it for a long time. They simply love seeing the ball run through the maze of tubes.
3. Watercolour paint. They absolutely love this. And so much less mess than finger painting!
4. Guitars. For their musical ambitions.Our boys really like playing them and singing an absolutely not related song at the same time 🙂 🙂  

5. Puzzels. Something to do together first and then let them learn by themselves. Start with 4-6 pieces and work them up to 20-24.

The why-phase

The Why-phase has started. I don’t think I have ever had so many questions per day. Here are some examples of the questions I got in the last hour.

  • Why are you wearing shoes?
  • Why are you not wearing shoes?
  • Why are dogs not wearing shoes?
  • Why is the grass green?
  • Why is it not orange?
  • Why can I not draw on the table?
  • Why do I have to draw on paper?
  • Why is the white not working?
  • Why do we not have black paper?
  • Why is it finished?
  • Why does the shop not have black paper?
  • Why don’t you go to the shop to get black paper?
  • Why can I not put white on the wall?
  • What is this?
  • Why is this a bellybutton?
  • Why do I have a bellybutton?
  • Why do you have a mole?
  • Why do you have so many moles?
  • Why do I have moles?
  • Why do I not have more yet?
  • Why are you sitting there?
  • Why are you drinking tea?
  • Why are you thirsty?
  • Why are you tired?
  • Mom, why are you tired?
  • Mom?
  • Mommy?
  • Moooooo-om!

Sticks and stones

These days I often walk with the boys. I am teaching them about traffic, traffic lights, trams and other important rules. The boys however are more interested in their surroundings. If they see something of interest on the ground (usually garbage) they want to grab it. So teaching them about trash is one of those other important rules.

Their favourite things to find are sticks though. We can’t walk past a tree or bush without them diving in the soil to get a half rotten, dirty, wet stick. This stick is the most precious thing they have ever seen and it has to come home with us. If it’s not so big it has to be put in my handbag (yuk). If it is big, it will be in their hands until they find a better one. Or until it breaks and they cry till I have fixed it (em, yes, till I have found the perfect replacement that is). Or till we get home and they leave it in our hallway for later. (And when they are in bed I throw them in the garden, the sticks are piling up like crazy.)

There is something that tops the stick though: stones. The best thing that can happen is finding nice pebbles (or horribly dirty ones, sometimes they get confused with hardened dog poo). When we come across a yard that has stones instead of grass they jump for joy and dive in. What usually happens then is that they fight about the same stone, even though there are hundreds of similar stones. All the while I am waiting/ freezing in the cold/ getting wet in the rain / burning in the sun. A 10 minute walk usually takes about 35 minutes with these two. But hey, soon we’ll have enough stones to build my own pebble garden.

The smell of… paint thinner

A few days ago I painted some woodwork in our living room. I did this while the boys were in school and when I was done I cleaned up and opened the windows to get the smell out. By the time the boys were home, there was hardly any scent left. The paint was still drying so I told them to stay away from the wood, which they did (or so I thought).

The next morning I woke up the boys in their bedroom and I smelled paint thinner. How strange I thought, as I had not painted there. But as we are living in an old house I thought ‘maybe all the smells went up through the ceiling?’. So I opened up the windows to make sure it would evaporate quickly.

But as soon as the boys were home from school, I could smell that nauseating smell again. And I had not even been painting. I sniffed everywhere to make sure I had not left anything with paint on it. I threw out the rags and the newspapers that I had used, even though they were not so smelly. And still I could smell paint thinner when I was around the boys. I sniffed and sniffed. Maybe I was going crazy? Was I smelling things that were not there?!
Right. I admit it looked a little crazy, me going sniffing through the whole house…. but the next morning I finally found the source of the smell. My son’s favourite stuffed animals had a slightly black ear. He hardly lets go of that animal so when I got it from his grip, I nearly fainted. YAIKS, that thing stank!
I have absolutely no idea how he managed to get his animal anywhere near my paint stuf, my guess is he probably threw it against my painted wood. Anyway, the mystery has finally been solved and is in the washing machine right now. Toddlers: never a dull moment.

Moving house II

The last month was hard. The boys did not react well to all the changes. We had taken all possible precautions to make the move a smooth transition.
– The boys helped with packing (and loved it.)
– We explained what was going to happen many times (and they understood and were excited.)
– We took them to the new house several times before we moved. (they were really looking forward to it.)
– We let them help with little things in the new house (tearing of wallpaper is their favourite.)
– We moved some toys already to show them how moving worked (mom, can we keep this?)
– We read stories about moving (which they loved.)
– We showed them the empty old house after moving (and had them run around to their delight.)
– We explored the new neighbourhood together (they love all the new shops.)

And those things all worked: they absolutely love the new house. They could not be happier that we have stairs now and they love their new big bedroom, the garden and their play area.
BUT…  their behaviour was horrible most of the time. They got upset about everything, said no to anything you would suggest, started throwing their toys around a lot, screamed so much I feel I got deaf, not even to mention the spitting and crying uncontrollably when we said NO to them. It was a nightmare, we did not recognise our boys anymore.

Sadly there was no solution, all the above mentioned things did not work against the endless tantrums they threw. Even the always working solution of taking them apart and giving them love, hugs and special attention would not stop these moods.

And being twins, the tantrum of one caused the other one to get upset too, even if he was playing nicely before.So it really never ended.
The only solution was time. We suffered for weeks and weeks. Now it finally seems to get better. We are still not there but at least there are some hours in the day they are tantrum-free. Let’s hope this phase is over soon. Mommy and Daddy feel like they aged forty years in four weeks.

Moving house

As we are in the process of moving house within Brussels, I have been (and still am) a little too busy (and tired) to sit behind the computer to share our twin stories.

The boys are trying very hard to help with everything and are really excited. They thoroughly enjoyed pulling wallpaper of in the new house for instance and they seem very keen to help out painting walls…

Packing up our old belongings is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I am trying to explain to the boys that we are bringing everything. Still that does not reassure them. They insist on grabbing each toy and book in their bedroom and ask me: ‘Is this coming to the new house?’
And when I pack a box they often take things out again because even though they did not look at the item in weeks, now they really need to play with it.
So sorry for my absence here, and don’t worry, I am sure there will be plenty to share once we are a bit settled.